One of the major issues that the United States is facing at the moment is the rising number of homeless people. On a given night, more than 550,000 homeless people can be found on the streets as reported by the US Department of Housing and as stated in the Urban Development’s Annual Homeless Assessment Report.
It’s hard to imagine how one can survive without a home to call their own, but this reality is sadly happening. Somewhere out there, homeless people are left to live in the streets, struggling to survive each day and night that passes by. If only these people had a source of living, they would somehow have a chance at getting their lives back on track, having sustainability and finally getting a decent shelter for them to reside in.
One non-profit organization in Austin, Texas believes that homeless people can have that chance. They are hoping that through their project, they will be able to provide homeless people a shot at getting a better life.
The Other Ones Foundation (OOF), a non-profit organization that aims to “transition Austin’s homeless neighbors into an engaged community, through shelter, support, nourishment, and love.” It is geared towards providing the help needed by these people through giving opportunities for them to earn even without a permanent address.
The organization’s website states that “participants engage in the work of large-scale environmental cleanup, subsidized housing improvements, public art maintenance, and sheltered animal enrichment.” This clean-up drive is not only focused on keeping the environment clean but also to give the homeless people the chance to get paid for their work.
In exchange of picking up trash and cleaning up the city, homeless people are paid with $15 per hour of labor. They also get free lunches as well as transportation to wherever they need to do clean-up.
What’s even more amazing is the fact that the organization also looks into giving the people with more permanent employment by offering free case management services. Through this assistance, homeless people get a chance to finally be free from their unpredictable lifestyle and start having a more stable source of income and eventually, housing.
OOF also has a property aimed to give homeless people some access to food, laundry facilities, showers and internet connection. The property is called The Golden Road and it is truly a huge help for the homeless. They can even sleep here during the day, instead of sleeping outside especially during harsh weather.
The organization has incredibly paid out more than $100,000 for the homeless people who help in cleaning the city. Out of their total number of beneficiaries, 24 homeless people have now found their way to more stable housing.
The cause of the organization is absolutely commendable and inspiring. Even the members of the Austin City Council members recognize the amazing impact of the program and this recognition has led them to earmark $720,000 for Family Eldercare Inc, which oversees OOF.
The said amount is roughly seven-fold of the original budget that the city provided for this cause way back in September 2018. The huge increase in their funds will definitely make a positive impact in their activities and projects that will ultimately help these homeless people to get back on their feet.
Council Member Leslie Pool even called the program “transformational.”
“I think we can all agree that the program represents the kind of solution-based and holistic work that we as a community need to do on the homelessness issue,” she said.
The homeless people who are now working under this program works on weekends and does all the cleaning they can do from scrubbing graffiti up to cleaning camps for homeless people and picking up trash everywhere. Although OOF has already helped quite a lot of homeless people get a job, the organization still wishes to increase the number of people who are working for them. The increase in their funding is quite a huge help and they hope that through this increase in their funding, they will be able to give aid to more homeless people.
Christopher Baker, the executive director of OOF, explained more on how this amazing movement positively impacts the community.
“This is not only about people earning a dignified income; it’s about being a force for positive change in the lives of our homeless neighbors. By offering the opportunity to be of service to their community, we see them becoming engaged and proud members of that community,” he said.
These kinds of movement meant to help those in need are quite what we need at this day and age. Caring for others and showing compassion for them are always beautiful things, and by giving these homeless people a chance at life, the OOF had absolutely made a change that we hope will continue to be strongly implemented and will even be larger in scale in the near future.
The homeless people need to be given a chance, too. And in this amazing program, these people are given an opportunity to show that they, too, can live normally and happily.
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