Denver Day Works is the city’s first attempt to hire people experiencing homelessness into short-term day jobs, such as planting trees and cleaning public spaces.
It already has proved one thing in its first two weeks: The demand is there. “Right now, there is more interest than there is capacity,” wrote Marcus Ritosa, the city’s manager for program, in an email.
The program currently pays people twice a week to do maintenance and beautification at Civic Center Park.
The park crew can only include 15 workers maximum, and Denver Day Works is trying to keep people coming for several shifts. That means that new participants essentially have to wait for a slot to open up, which is taking several weeks at the moment.
“The overall driving factor is to get them into something more permanent,” Ritosa said in a phone interview. In other words, the city wants to identify job opportunities and appropriate social services for the people who are participating.
“How can we use the trust we build with them to make that connection? It takes time to do that.”
How to participate:
People wanting to connect with the program can show up on Tuesdays and Wednesdays near the Greek Theatre in Civic Center Park. (That’s the part with all the columns.) Around 8:30 a.m. is the best bet, but the program’s representatives will be there most of the day on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
“The idea is that if you have contact information — a phone number or an email address — Bayaud [the contractor running the program] will reach back out if there’s going to be an opening,” Ritosa said.
The waitlist should ease as the program expands to multiple days and sites. It should reach three and then five days a week in the near future. First, though, Bayaud has to hire more program staff and arrange transportation and other logistics. (See our previous explanation of the program’s costs.)
The program eventually should place participants at other jobs run by Bayaud, which is a nonprofit employment agency, and even in the private sector. If you run a business and you’re interested to participate, you can email Ritosa.
The program hasn’t placed anyone in a permanent job yet, but it only started two weeks ago. Six participants already have applied for positions with the city of Denver outside the Denver Day Works program.