A California city is paying its homeless population to clean up their tent sites as the state fights a homelessness crisis

Katie Canales
·2 min read
california homelessness los angeles
Echo Park Lake Thursday, March 25, 2021 in los Angeles, CA. Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
  • The California town of Elk Grove is paying its homeless population $20 gift cards to clean tent sites.

  • The year-long program has saved the city thousands of dollars.

  • California has long been racked by a homelessness crisis, exacerbated by a housing shortage.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Officials in the California town of Elk Grove are paying those who are homeless in its city to keep their encampment sites clean, according to CNN.

Elk Grove, which sits about 15 miles south of Sacramento, appears to have started the pilot program about a year ago. The city's housing and public services manager, Sarah Bontrager, told CNN that the public works team distributes trash bags and visits the homeless encampment every two weeks. If they arrive and those living there have trash bagged, she said they are eligible for $20 gift cards to grocery stores.

Per the report, whoever receives the gift cards can use them on anything except cigarettes and alcohol, and most end up using the credit on food or personal hygiene products.

Bontrager said the most common complaint they receive regarding the city's homeless population is the volume of trash. The city is "saving thousands of dollars" by paying those who are homeless to clean their encampments instead of using public workers, she told CNN.

Bontrager said it costs $1,000 in labor and equipment each time public workers have to clean up an encampment site, per CNN. But since the program stood up, the city has only used $10,000 of a $15,000 budget.

California has long endured a crushing homelessness crisis, exacerbated by a housing shortage and a lack of affordable living. More than a quarter of the unhoused population in the US is comprised of the state's homeless community, according to a March 2020 report from The Guardian.

California has the third-largest homeless population in the US, with over 128,000 people living unhoused in the state, per CBS Los Angeles.

The crisis is particularly acute in Los Angeles County, according to a March report from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Read the original article on Business Insider