LA City Council considers employing homeless people to clean up litter from streets

A Los Angeles City Council committee gave its approval Wednesday to a proposal to create a pilot program in which homeless people would be employed to clean litter and trash from streets, sidewalks and alleys.

According to a motion, which was approved without objection by the Public Works and Gang Reduction Committee, the city receives an average of 200 requests per day through its 311 mobile app and website regarding dumping, debris and other trash-related nuisances, and trash is also consistently one of the three top reported issues to 311.

The motion introduced by council members Joe Buscaino, Bob Blumenfield and Nury Martinez says the Department of Public Works' Bureau of Sanitation now responds to trash-related requests by deploying teams of ``highly trained city employees whose skills are often needed for more complex projects.''

Daily litter maintenance should be outsourced to social justice organizations that could recruit and hire homeless people to clean up trash, similar to a graffiti abatement program in which entry-level services are outsourced to contractors who hire transitional workers, according to the motion.

``If we continue to move forward with the way that the city currently operates and responds to trash, we will continue to see excessive amounts of litter on our streets,'' Buscaino said. ``So, bottom line, desperate times calls for creative measures.''

Buscaino said other cities, including Sacramento, San Jose and Oakland, have been effective in using homeless or transitional workers to pick up trash.

If approved by the full City Council, the motion would direct city staff to report with recommendations on creating a pilot program.

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