British Columbia

Victoria's homeless could do odd jobs for city, says councillor

A Victoria city councillor has asked staff to report back on the idea of giving homeless people temporary casual work for the city as an alternative to panhandling.

Councillor Charlayne Thornton-Joe says idea has been successful in Albuquerque, New Mexico

Victoria city councillor Charlayne Thornton-Joe has directed staff to report back on ideas for giving temporary, flexible work to homeless people in the city. (Rennett Stowe)

A Victoria city councillor is floating the idea of paying homeless people in Victoria's downtown to do casual work for the city.

Councillor Charlayne Thornton-Joe says it's an idea that has been carried out successfully in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where the city pays homeless people to do chores like weeding and garbage clean-up.

"I wanted our staff to explore this and speak with the union and see if there's some opportunity here," Thornton-Joe told All Points West host Robyn Burns. "I'm not saying a full-time job. I'm not saying eight hours a day. I'm saying two hours or three hours."

"When you're doing something, you're feeling good. When you're connecting with people, when you're given a hand up not necessarily a hand out, when you have an opportunity to earn your own money."

Thornton-Joe said the exact duties that people employed this way could do would be determined by staff and the union, but she envisions it would be things like garbage removal, gum removal, or maybe entry-level office tasks.

"When you've been on the street and maybe haven't had a good night's sleep, you haven't had a shower, you haven't had enough food, eight hours a day five days a week might be overwhelming," she said.

"So it's about working with each individual to see if we can empower people and maybe add some diversity to our staff."

City staff will report back to Thornton-Joe on the feasibility of her idea.

To hear the full story, listen to the audio labelled: Victoria councillor suggests homeless could do temp work for city


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