A city-funded program that aims to get homeless people off the streets and out into the Anchorage community is underway. The pilot program features a van that picks up people from local shelters who want to work.


Nancy Burke, the city’s homeless coordinator, said the program pays people $10 dollars an hour to clean up trash around town. But she said it shouldn’t be considered an employment program.


“What we are trying to do with people who are homeless is help them reengage with the community, have a sense of purpose, feel some pride about what is happening for them,” Burke said. “Work is what does that for all of us, so this program is an engagement opportunity.”


Burke said the jobs are short-term. At the end of the week, there’s a push to get people into services that can help them down the road.


‘We know that people coming from homelessness need time to sort out financial matters. They need to identify permanent housing, there’s a lot of things to be done,” she said. “So the program is structured around a Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday work week and Thursday and Friday are days set aside to take care of personal matters.”


The Anchorage Assembly agreed to spend $75,000 on the pilot program. Burke said the program will end when the money is gone, possibly in another month.


She said she’s hopeful if it’s considered a success to find more funding so the program could continue into the future.


KTVA 11’s Lauren Maxwell can be reached via email or on Twitter.