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Hiring the Homeless to Build Their Own Houses

A Washington, D.C., program could be a model for weaning people off welfare, reducing the homeless population and improving the look of cities.
by | September 19, 2011
 

By 2015, nearly a third of Washington, D.C. families on welfare will stop receiving benefits. In the meanwhile,  D.C. government agencies and nonprofits are trying to help aid-dependent people become self-sufficient, reports the Washington Post. A pilot program, Sweat Equity, offers a living wage and rent-controlled housing to homeless people receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funds in exchange for their help refurbishing vacant city-owned dwellings. In addition, participants will also get the chance to build their savings because a portion of their pay and their rent will automatically go into a special account. Enrolling and staying in the program isn't easy. It requires passing a drug test and nearly perfect attendance -- two late arrivals will get someone kicked out. If successful, the program could be a national model for weaning people off welfare, reducing the homeless population and improving the look of cities -- a win-win for local governments and the people they serve.

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