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Homeless Aim To Improve Themselves And Austin Street – QNS.com

Homeless Aim To Improve Themselves And Austin Street

Starting in November, the litter on the concrete and asphalt surfaces of Austin Street in Forest Hills will be swept clean. At the same time, the citys homeless will be put to work; a more productive situation than many have become accustomed to.
The Austin-Continental United Merchants Group, an association of merchants along Austin Street and Continental Avenue, have made a contract with the Doe Foundation, a non-profit organization whose mission is to empower the homeless by putting them to work and providing them with inexpensive room and board.
According to Merchants Group Board Member Joel Mandel, they will pay the Foundation for six workers to sweep up Austin Street eight hours a day, seven days a week, all of whom could be at work at any given point.
After hearing about the Manhattan-based foundation on Sixty Minutes, the Forest Hills group decided to contact the Foundation to work out the deal, which will commence on November 1. The contract is not yet finalized, says Program Administrator Jennifer Mitchell, but if an agreement is made, the workers will be residents of the Foundations Brooklyn and Manhattan shelters.
The workers are formerly homeless and are provided with jobs that pay anywhere from $5.50 to $6.50 an hour, as long as they promise to stay drug- and alcohol-free and deposit a certain amount of their earnings into a savings account. They are also trained in job skills ranging from software operation to construction. With their work experience, skills, and savings, the Doe Foundations hope is that they will soon be able to work independently after a short period of time.
Ready, Willing and Able, the Foundations program that has put nearly 1,000 homeless to work since its inception in 1990, has offices in New York, New Jersey, and Washington D.C. Their workers are employed through contracts in both the public and private sector.
"Its amazing to think what started as a program for 50 men in Bedford-Stuyvesant is going to serve more than 750 homeless men and women each day," said president and founder of the Doe Foundation George McDonald. "I started Ready, Willing, and Able because I believed the homeless wanted to work and take responsibility for their lives, and this is living proof."
This is the Doe Foundations first project in Queens. For more information or to hire these workers, call the Doe Foundation at (212) 628-5207.

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