/ Modified dec 18, 2016 6:37 a.m.

Homeless Work Program Begins Small; Hope for Growth

Plus: VA official in Tucson; new jaguar caught on camera; celebrating Lalo's music.

The city, county and nonprofit organizations started a Homeless Work Program this month to find day jobs for people without housing.

The effort is meant to help homeless people find pay for a day, and is modeled on a program in Albuquerque that aimed to reduce panhandling, said Tom Litwicki, the CEO of Old Pueblo Community Services. It’s one of the organizations helping support and run the program.

The program can handle about six workers a day, and is starting with cleaning up neighborhood streets, traffic circles and medians. Those are areas on which city street crews have been unable to keep up maintenance because of reduced staff budgets.

One worker, Larry, who did not want to share his last name, said he lost his primary job this year.

"Unfortunately that took a big chunk out of my income. Usually I’m self-sufficient, however this year I wasn’t able to be," he said.

The program helps a bit, Larry said.

"The average person does want to work. They want to make money, they want to be self-sufficient, so anything that gets them to that goal they welcome," Larry said.

Those who participate get lunch and a reservation at a shelter the same night. They also get access to assistance with housing, jobs and health care provided by Catholic Community Services.

  • The Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs was in Tucson this week to visit the local VA Hospital. Sloan Gibson discussed the reports that wait times were fabricated to look like the facility was in compliance with federal standards.

  • This month, a remotely operated camera snapped a photo of a new male jaguar on Fort Huachuca. Melanie Culver, jaguar habitat researcher at the University of Arizona, discusses what the sighting means. She has operated remote cameras throughout Southern Arizona to document jaguar and ocelots.

  • The man who oversaw public services (roads, flood control and the sewer department) for Pima County is retiring. John Bernal reflects on his career, how he would solve funding pressures, and what road projects have made a difference in Pima County.

  • Christmas Eve is the 100th anniversary of Tucson native Lalo Guerrero’s birthday. He died in 2005, and is known as the father of Chicano music. Hear from him in an archived interview, and hear some of his favorite famous songs.

  • More on the Homeless Work Program, in this full interview with Tom Litwicki, CEO of Old Pueblo Community Services.

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