Visalia looks to tackle homelessness issue with new work program

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Visalia officials are optimistic that a new homeless work program could create positive change for the city's homeless population. (KFSN)

Visalia officials are optimistic that a new homeless work program could create positive change for the city's homeless population.

With the help of other organizations, the city would hire two crews of five homeless workers for three months at a time.

They would work 20 hours a week under a supervisor, picking up trash and removing graffiti in public areas, and possibly even areas around highways if the city forms a partnership with Caltrans.

"It's really a double benefit," Visalia Mayor Warren Gubler said. "We're one, going to help these people help themselves, and two, we're going to take some of the trash and graffiti issues we have here in the city."

The program would cost $354,000 for the first year, and the mayor says it would be funded by the city's solid waste fund, redirected bottle bill revenues, and a grant from the county's workforce investment board.

The idea is to have the once-homeless workers transition to full-time jobs with either the city or private companies, and then find housing.

"We're going to be working with (the workers) about how to be an employee, getting to work on time, putting in a full day's work," Gubler said.

Visalia Rescue Mission Director of Development Ryan Stillwater says it's no secret that the city's homeless situation has worsened. But he believes the city's program could be beneficial for some of the people the mission serves, particularly those who aren't in one of their programs but are looking for work.

"That is a great opportunity for us to provide that referral to one of our guests and hopefully see them take advantage of it," Stillwater said.

After hearing about the success of a similar program in Bakersfield, Visalia's city council voted to move forward with implementing theirs. It could start in two to three months.
Related Topics:
societyvisaliatulare countyhomelessVisalia
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