Paying the homeless to clean up their camps has paid off for this Sacramento-area city

When the pandemic first hit, officials in the City of Elk Grove came up with a novel idea to reduce health risks for their Public Works employees. They decided to pay homeless people to clean up their own encampments using $20 gift cards.

A year later, Elk Grove’s card-for-cleanup program has been a wild success. It’s one of those pandemic-era brain waves that’s here to stay and likely to be replicated in other cities. City officials say it’s encouraging cleaner encampments and saving taxpayers money in the process.

“We could easily have spent $10,000 a month on that program, just doing regular cleanups. And now, our entire program operating for about a year, we haven’t even spent $10,000," Sarah Bontrager, Elk Grove Housing and Public Services Manager, told ABC 10.

Learn more about the program here.