Driving through his city and seeing a panhandler's sign, inspired Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry to begin the city's There’s a Better Way program and this year the program celebrates its one year anniversary. Washington Post staffer Colby Itkowitz reports on the program which has a van pick up panhandlers and pay them $9 an hour to beautify the city through such things as picking weeds.
Through the program 932 jobs have been given out clearing 69,601 pounds of litter and weeds. It has also helped to dispel the stigma of panhandlers being too lazy to work:
Panhandling is not especially lucrative and it’s demoralizing, but for some people it can seem as if it’s the only option. When panhandlers have been approached in Albuquerque with the offer of work, most have been eager for the opportunity to earn money, Berry said. They just needed a lift.