New 90-day program provides work to homeless people


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    A new program is set to provide homeless people jobs helping make the city more beautiful; all funded by the city of Omaha and the Salvation Army.

    The groups call the program "A Way to Work" and six people will be selected for the program and work at the Hanscom Park greenhouse.

    The idea stemmed from a project in New Mexico called "There's A Better Way" but now, the city of Omaha decided to bring something similar here.

    "We don't want to send out this message that we are trying to just get rid of our homeless," said Mayor Jean Stothert. "We want to take care of them."

    The program costs $100,000 to run but the cost will be split 50/50 by the city and the Salvation Army.

    The program will allow people to come to Hanscom Park to take care of the greenhouse for two days a week at 10 dollars an hour, with transportation provided.

    The Siena Francis House will also be referring people to the program, while others can apply directly or through the project coordinator.

    "We may be dealing with a population that's not used to work," said Major Greg Thompson. "So they're used to a way of life that doesn't involve having a schedule or going somewhere regularly, and so our goal here is to teach those skills as well. Not only to prepare them for work but to say this is what work looks like."

    As for frequent park visitors, they said they are happy to see the greenhouse put to good use.

    "I think that's awesome to even have this going as a green house here at all," said Audrey Smith. "And then to be able to use homeless people and have them have a paying job to be able to work with their hands here, that seems awesome."

    There are some qualifications for the program including:

    - You have to be 19 years or older

    - Able to successfully pass a background check.

    The program will go on from February 5th until September 30th. Once the program is over, the Salvation Army will help with recommendations and job applications. Participants will also have the chance to work with the parks department after the 90 days.

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