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City launches program to help provide Lexington panhandlers with jobs

(WKYT)
Published: Apr. 25, 2017 at 10:53 AM EDT
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Mayor Jim Gray will join other city officials on Tuesday to announce a new program designed to address panhandling in Lexington.

The city is launching a program called "Lex Gives." It will help provide jobs to panhandlers with the help of online donations to the program.

Charlie Lanter, former Director of the Office of Homelessness Prevention and Intervention, says the program will pay $9 an hour for panhandlers to do cleanup work around the city for six hours a day. A van will transport those who need work to the job sites. The New Life Day Center will operate the van. With approval from the Urban County Council, the city plans to donate the van to the organization.

“No one has to beg for food or shelter in Lexington,” Gray said. “Our city invests almost $6 million a year in programs that help people experiencing homelessness or those living in extreme poverty,” Gray said. “We provide shelter, housing and food. This is a new opportunity to work and earn.”

The program is similar to one launched last year in Albuquerque, New Mexico called 'There's a Better Way." Rather than donate money directly to panhandlers, the program encourages people to donate money to the program online. The city then uses that money to provides panhandlers with the resources they need, including hiring them to clean and do projects across the city. According to KRQE News 13, the city of Albuquerque was able to hire

.

"Very few of the panhandlers are literally homeless. We know most of the people here who are homeless. We work with them every day," Lanter said.

In the new few weeks the city will place signs at intersections asking citizens not to give cash to panhandlers. There will also be information in LexServ bills and through public service announcements about the program.