Fort Worth hires homeless people to clean up the city

Fort Worth is helping people get back on their feet while cleaning up the city.

City officials are hiring homeless people to pick up litter, giving them a chance to start over.

Project Clean Slate has seven employees. Fort Worth approved another $465,000 to hire 15 more homeless people.

Picking up litter may seem like a small thing to some people, but the job has given Frank Crist his life back.

"I'd still be in the shelter living on the street," he said.

Clean Slate is run by the Presbyterian Night Shelter through a contract with the city of Fort Worth. Crist is one of seven employees. More employees are expected to be hired in the near future.

"The goal is to give people an income so they can end their homelessness," said Toby Owen, CEO of the Presbyterian Night Shelter.

The program worked for Crist. He now has his own place, a job that pays better than minimum wage and provides health insurance. Crist was homeless for two years. He says he tried many times to get a job.

"That's the first question: Where do you live?" he said. "Soon as you say that you live in a shelter, they don't want much to do with you."

Then, there's the deal breaker.

"As soon as they found out I'd been in prison, it pretty much was over," Crist said.

What's made this program so successful is that it's helped some find the pride and confidence they thought they'd lost.

"When we clean a creek or a park in our city, you look back and see with work we've done that it feels good. It looks good," said Reginald Newton, another Clean Slate employee.

Picking up litter is a service the city has to pay for. Supporters of Clean Slate says what better way to use that money than to also have an impact on people's lives.

There is also advancement opportunity. City staff says if the workers do well with the job, they automatically get to interview for a higher paying job within the city.