High praise for Interfaith Sanctuary, Parks & Recreation employment program

Posted at 5:25 PM, Sep 12, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-12 19:24:54-04

The City of Boise has nothing but high praise for a special crew in the Parks and Recreation Department. For the last four months, a group of 10 homeless people have been working as city employees through a unique program. 

After 120 days on the job, positive reviews on the employment program between Interfaith Sanctuary and Parks & Rec. 

"We have 90+ parks in our system and they all need daily care," said Doug Holloway, Parks & Recreation Director. "So, there's a lot of work that can be done, and they've proven that any assignment we assign to them, they do it and they do it in A+ fashion."

From planting and mowing to general park maintenance, the 10-person crew works four days a week for $9.25 an hour -- paychecks that change their lives. 

"Three of them have moved out of the shelter because of this program," said Jodi Peterson, Development Director for Interfaith Sanctuary. "One is now a homeowner and two live in housing and come to work every day. They stay part of the program, but they're growing and becoming very self-sufficient."

Working with case managers at the sanctuary and crew leaders at job sites is part of the program.
Employees must also obtain a social security card, identification card and a checking account.

The employment program has been so popular in fact, there's a waiting list at the sanctuary with 18 people hoping to join. 

Both high demand and a high success rate have organizers looking to possibly expand the program next spring.

"People that want to work and get the opportunity to work, will actually work," Holloway said. "And certainly, this program proved that." 

Because these employees are seasonal workers, they'll only be able to work until Oct. 31. However, the City of Boise is hoping to find some opportunities for winter work, to help keep the group engaged.