River-Cleaning Program Gives Jobs To Reno Homeless, Beautifies City

The city is helping people move with, not against, the current.

The city of Reno is streamlining its efforts to reduce homelessness, while simultaneously keeping its waterways clean.

A pilot program called Reno Works is giving 20 people at a downtown homeless shelter temporary jobs cleaning the Truckee River, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported. The goal is for participants of the program to develop work experience and job skills to use after the 18-week project ends.

“Many shelter residents want a job desperately, but face many obstacles that prevent them from working,” Pat Cashell, the regional director of Volunteers of America, the nonprofit partnering with the city for Reno Works, told the news outlet. “This program will help remove those barriers so they can obtain employment and feel the pride of standing on their own feet again.”

Funding for Reno Works was approved in August, when the city designated a $110,000 budget for the program, KRNV reported. A press conference on Oct. 6 announced the official start of Reno Works, with representatives from VOA Northern Nevada, the City of Reno and Washoe County speaking on the impact they hope to make with the pilot program. In addition to providing skills for future employment, Reno Works aims to give participants work experience that will make them more eligible for permanent housing.

“It’s not only about instilling pride in the workers from a good hard-day’s work, but also cleaning up the river for the community,” Neoma Jardon, Ward 5 Reno City Council member, said according to a press release.

The $110,000 budget will go toward paying workers $10 an hour for three days of work each week, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported, as well as life classes for crew members. At the end of the 18 weeks, workers will receive a certificate of completion, housing referrals and a letter of recommendation.

“It’s more than the money,” Cashell told KRNV. “It’s more about regaining your self-esteem, your self-worth, pride.”

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