Moreno Valley program helps homeless people get jobs, clean up city

MORENO VALLEY, Calif. (KABC) -- The city of Moreno Valley has partnered with the federal government to help homeless people find jobs through a program that has seen success.

The Homeless to Work program has been in place for about two years.

It began as a shared partnership between the city, Waste Management and the Salvation Army. The program uses a federal grant to hire the homeless for three months, working to clean and maintain areas throughout the city.

"I think it's a game changer for this area, especially Southern California," said Moreno Valley Mayor Yxstian Gutierrez.

"It's not just the job part," he added. "It's really taking a targeted approach and trying to solve this problem."

There are no more than seven people in the program at any time, but 44 people have graduated and been placed in full-time jobs.

"I got high hopes for all of them and they have those hopes, too. They will succeed," said Vincent Fredborg, the Salvation Army's program coordinator.

In most cases, Fredborg recruits interested people and becomes a friend in the process. He helped Mariella St. Clair, who completed the program last year and has since graduated UEI College.

"I know I'm capable of working. I know I'm capable of moving on from living in the street," St. Clair said.

"It's better though, when you have a bed to go to and lay your head down at night time, knowing that you're going be warm instead of being outside," she said.

In Riverside County, a recent count of the homeless population saw a 20% increase, but in Moreno Valley, that same count showed a 50% decrease thanks in large part to the Homeless to Work program.

The program could be a solution in other cities.

"I do think that it can be replicated, and especially if they don't have all of the funds to do it at such a large scale, they can at least look at pockets or pilot areas in those major cities," Gutierrez said.
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