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City program to employ those facing homelessness in Las Cruces

A Las Cruces organization is hoping to help people get out of tent city, by hiring them to make the city look better. (KFOX14)

The city of Las Cruces wants to partner with the Mesilla Valley Community of Hope to hire those who want to work.

The program will help to employ those in need of a job and it will also work to help beautify Las Cruces.

City leaders want to start a pilot program called Mano Y Mano Day Labor.

The plan is to employ people who are homeless or on the verge of homelessness to work for minimum wage picking up trash around Las Cruces.

The Mano Y Mano Day Labor program would begin by employing 10 people from the Mesilla Valley Community of Hope to work for $9.20 an hour for two days a week.

If the program goes well, the city would employ 20 people to work five days per week through June 2019.

“They can do something and get the gratification of having a paycheck, especially if they’re working with a case manager or someone who can help them figure out, 'OK, now I have some employment. What can I do to start to better my life?'” Las Cruces resident Pam Pierce said.

Day laborers for the program will assist with landscape beautification, garbage removal and other tasks on city property.

“It’s a great jump-start for them to improve their lives and for the city to help them improve their lives so I’m all for it. I think it’s a great idea,” Las Cruces resident Keith Parsons said.

The program will also provide transportation, equipment and social service opportunities for people, such as Petra Acosta, who are experiencing homelessness.

“I always worked, and I’m willing to work and do whatever I can to better myself and get my place,” Acosta said.

The executive director of the Mesilla Valley Community of Hope, Nichole Martinez, said she hopes the program will lead to permanent employment opportunities.

One man KFOX14 spoke with said he’s for the program but is skeptical about whether it will succeed.

“Who is going to orchestrate and be accountable for either the success for the program or the failure of it? I think, with the support of the community and the right key management people in place, I think it’s a wonderful idea,” Las Cruces resident Angel Acosta said.

The Mano Y Mano Labor Program will begin May 1.

Funding for the program will come from the city’s Telshor Facility Fund.

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