Posts Tagged ‘Fernanda Santos’

After Albuquerque’s harsh approach to homelessness resulted in the death of a schizophrenic man in 2015, the city has done a 360.

NY Times reporter Fernanda Santos describes the current approach to homelessness: “Will Cole steered an old Dodge van along a highway access road one recent Tuesday, searching for panhandlers willing to work. … By the third stop, [nine] men and one woman had hopped inside.

“They were homeless. But suddenly, as part of a novel attempt to deal with rising poverty and destitution here, they were city workers for the day.

“Donning gloves and fluorescent vests, they raked a piece of messy ground by some railroad tracks on the edge of downtown … The toil paid off decently: $9 an hour and a lunch of sandwiches, chips and granola bars, enjoyed in a park. For the city, it represented a policy shift toward compassion and utility.

“ ‘It’s about the dignity of work, which is kind of a hard thing to put a metric on, or a matrix,’ Mayor Richard J. Berry said. ‘If we can get your confidence up a little, get a few dollars in your pocket, get you stabilized to the point where you want to reach out for services, whether the mental health services or substance abuse services — that’s the upward spiral that I’m looking for.’ …

“To collect their pay, they must work hard and work an entire shift, from start to finish — five to six hours, on average. They are paid in cash at the hospitality center’s employment office, two blocks from the shelter that feeds 400 people on a given day.

“The sole woman among the day laborers that recent Tuesday was Ramona Beletso, a Navajo Indian in her 40s who had twice fled abuse and destitution on the reservation. …

“ ‘I don’t even know how I ended up homeless,’ said Ms. Beletso, her eyes cast toward a pair of striped pink socks nearby, abandoned in a drying pool of mud. ‘Work helps me forget.’ …

“The mayor said he got the idea for the program from a panhandler he spotted on his way to work, holding a sign that read, ‘Want a job. Anything helps.’ It dawned on him that ‘the indignity of having to beg for money cuts through the soul.’ “

I saw almost the same sign in Providence last week. I usually duck my head and hurry on, embarrassed and not knowing what is right, but the young man who wanted work was so pleasant, perhaps I can think of a place he could ask about a job.

More on Albuquerque at the NY Times, here.

11/23/16 Update: Yesterday I saw the concept being applied by Amos House in Providence. The city has also said it intends to try it.

Photo: Mark Holm for The New York Times  
Panhandlers dug up weeds along a side street in Albuquerque as part of a work program in the city.

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I liked this multicultural story by Fernanda Santos in the NY Times. It demonstrates that people from different cultures can adapt to one another’s foods and customs very nicely in the U.S. melting pot.

It is all happening at the Ranch Market in Phoenix.

“Tortillas are a Mexican staple of transnational appeal here, bridging divisions carved by Arizona’s tough stance on immigration and reaching far beyond Latin American borders.

“The factory, at the Ranch Market store on North 16th Street, employs a pair of Iraqi refugees to whom flour tortillas have become a replacement for the flat bread known as khubz. There are also Cubans, Salvadorans, Guatemalans and, of course, Mexicans manning the machines like the rounder, which turns the masa into balls that are then pressed and cooked in 500-degree ovens at a rate of eight dozen disks a minute.

“Refugees from Somalia buy Ranch Market tortillas as a substitute for a pancake-like bread called canjeelo. Koreans have taken to using them to wrap pieces of spicy barbecued pork, like a taco. Foodies like them because they are the closest thing to an authentic tortilla that they can find at a supermarket here.”

Read more here.

Photograph: Joshua Lott for The New York Times
The Ranch Market on North 16th Street in Phoenix churns out eight dozen tortillas a minute, cooked in 500-degree ovens.

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