SAN RAFAEL (KCBS)—The San Rafael City Council is expected to decide Tuesday night whether to approve an innovative program to hire the city’s homeless to help clean the streets and remove graffiti. According to city officials, the administrative costs of such a plan would be more than a quarter-million dollars.

Up to 500 people live on the streets in San Rafael and must endure the conditions rain or shine. One of those people, Jim Hales, said having a chance to earn money while helping the city sounds pretty good to him.

“We can walk around and just clean up the streets,” Hales said. He added that he doesn’t want a handout. “I get a $400 a month check and that money’s free to me, but I don’t earn it and that bothers me.”

The city wants to hire Downtown Streets Team, a Palo Alto nonprofit organization, which has set up programs both there and in San Jose by using grants and donations.

“We think, if we’re successful, it could be expanded without question, not only in our city, but in other cities in Marin County,” San Rafael Mayor Gary Phillips said

But Rev. Paul Gaffney, with the Marin Interfaith Council, who works with the homeless, questions the way program is set up.

“Folks would be paid in Safeway cards or clothing vouchers and things like that, and I believe that people deserve fair pay for fair work,” he said. In addition, he doesn’t think five dollars an hour is enough. “Is it enough for you? It’s not enough for me,” he said.

Some of the homeless in the area said the dignity of working alone makes it worthwhile.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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