The City of Sacramento is sponsoring a new program that encourages homeless, and formerly homeless, men and women to volunteer in their community.

The 4-month pilot program, which began in January, offers a $20 per day stipend to individuals who help clean up trash along the streets in Sacramento.

“If we are going to gain any ground in ending homelessness, we have to make sure those who are trying to obtain the skills and work experience to succeed are able to do so – especially where transportation is involved,” said Councilmember Jay Schenirer in a statement. “The City’s work with the Downtown Streets Team and partnership with Sacramento Regional Transit to provide Connect card transit passes to these teams is a small but meaningful start.”

Project Manager Rachel Davidson says volunteering is an important component to the transitional program which aims to get homeless people into housing and jobs, as it provides hope and opens doors.

“The idea is that folks can come in work what would basically be half a regular normal work day,” Davidson said. “And that leaves the other half for engaging in case management, job interviews, you know housing applications.”

The program now has 27 team members who typically volunteer about four hours a day, the teams work up to four days per week.

Community service is just one component to this program. Case managers also work closely with team members to help them find housing and jobs. The group also meets weekly to discuss how their members are doing and to introduce them to employers and other resources.

Program leaders are working to secure about $350,000 in funding to keep the program going for at least another year – That’s about the time it usually takes individuals to accomplish the goal of transitioning into permanent housing and a job.