The city of Denver’s experimental jobs program for people experiencing homelessness will take on a new challenge in the next few weeks.
The Denver Day Works program will pay 36 people to keep River North extra tidy and welcoming over the next three weeks, around the time of the Crush mural-painting festival.
This will be new territory for the program, which has largely focused on maintenance of parks and public buildings so far. The RiNo pilot is the first time a specific neighborhood or district has hired people from the new program, and special events may represent a new business opportunity.
The idea of Denver Day Works is to create jobs that pay prevailing wages — $12.59 an hour, in this case — and have few or no barriers to entry. The program aims to place people in permanent jobs with the city and private companies and also to help them find services they might need.
The program claims that more than 40 private employers are participating. In RiNo, four businesses — Wolf Properties, Denver Central Market, Crema Coffee, The Preservery and The Rackhouse — will provide meals and other amenities for the workers.
The River North district governments will provide materials for the crew and a $2,500 cash contribution to Denver Day Works. RiNo Art District President Jamie Licko said that this would be “just the beginning” of the area’s work with the program.
The program has paid out about $83,000 in wages from city funds so far, according to city staff; 76 people have found longer-term employment through the program, including 12 with the city, according to city staff.