Amidst all the passionate comment and debate about Homeless Hotspots, there’s also been some inaccurate information flying around – especially about payment of the participants in this program. Since this is such an important and sensitive issue, we want to be 100% clear on the facts.
How much were Homeless Hotspots participants paid?
This was NOT a daily amount of just $20 as has sometimes been reported.
Based on expert recommendations from our partner Front Steps, it was agreed at the outset that all participants in the Homeless Hotspots program would be guaranteed a minimum payment of $50 per day for a maximum of 5-6 hours’ work, an amount that exceeds Texas minimum wage. In addition, every single dollar donated to the program also goes to the participants, and supporters can continue to donate at homelesshotspots.org. The participants were paid a $20 cash stipend upfront for each day worked during the four-day program, but this was not their total pay. We haven’t yet calculated the totals as donations continue to come in, but we do know it will work out to be significantly more than $50 per day for each participant.
Did the program end early?
No, Homeless Hotspots was always intended to be a short pilot program that would run throughout the weekend of the SXSW Interactive Festival, beginning Friday, March 9 and ending on Monday, March 12. Even as heated debate built on Sunday night, it was the homeless volunteers themselves — with support from our partners at Front Steps — who insisted on seeing it through to the last day as an opportunity to set the record straight and share their personal perspectives on the program. As they took their passion and commitment to the streets, we were deeply inspired to see the program through its entirety, as planned.
Are there future plans for Homeless Hotspot? Will it be in other cities?
Not yet. We’ve been listening carefully to the widespread response to Homeless Hotspots, and taking this into consideration as we discuss the next phase of this program and what that could be. We have been approached by multiple, respected homeless advocacy groups that are looking to partner and discuss potential plans.
We remain committed to supporting this global issue and will continue applying creativity and innovation to potential solutions. There will be future BBH work and initiatives in this area, but we do not yet know precisely the nature or location of these, or with whom we will be partnering
How do the homeless participants and homeless advocates feel about this program?
We’re pleased that a passionate debate has ensued regarding the program, as it’s bringing to light a number of key issues relating to how homeless populations can benefit from employment and entrepreneurial services. Most importantly, this debate helps ensure these individuals do not remain invisible and ignored. The topics debated include: the importance of creating opportunities for self-expression in homeless employment activities; the role of practicality and principles; the name and wording of the Homeless Hotspots program and t-shirts – as well as great discussion on what (and who) should define ’empowerment’ for the people who need it most. What’s been interesting to see is the role stereotypes play across all of these issues, one of the underlying themes we hoped to bring to the surface.
We also encourage everyone to read the perspectives of the homeless participants themselves:
The Wall Street Journal: