Richard J. Berry is the mayor of Albuquerque — the 32nd largest city in America and the largest city in New Mexico. One day he had an idea to do something differently. He decided that his city would stop criminalizing the homeless by ticketing and prosecuting panhandlers. Instead, he would offer them the dignity of a days work and a path toward getting off the streets. The results speak for themselves. Watch this short 12-minute video and hear how Mayor Berry did it. It is especially heartening to learn that nine large cities in the United States are implementing pilot programs such as the “There’s a Better Way” program in Albuquerque. Sadly, my city, Washington, DC is not one of them. Our Mayor, talks endlessly about ending homelessness in Washington, DC but does virtually nothing that matters. Making DC a national embarrassment with thousands of homeless, men, women and families living without permanent housing.
The second video is an interview with one of the key players in the Albuquerque program. His name is Will and he drives a van that reaches out to the homeless panhandlers. Will is the point of contact and the liaison between the homeless and the city. Will is empowered to offer work for pay immediately and it appears that there is indeed a better way.