Public funds will keep Woodside streets clean and help men transition out of a life of homelessness and a cycle of incarceration.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) has allocated $31,000 to the Doe Fund, a nonprofit that houses and feeds individuals and gives them on-the-job skills.
The public funds will pay for three men to sweep streets, change garbage bags, take fliers off poles, and other general maintenance issues of Woodside roadways, for six hours, three times a week. The target area will be along Roosevelt Avenue from 51st to 61st streets, 61st Street between Roosevelt and 39th avenues and along Woodside Avenue between 58th and 60th streets. Plazas and some surrounding areas will also receive attention.
“We keep the area clean like a washing machine,” Doe Fund Supervisor Ricky Hicks said at the program’s introduction on Monday at Woodside Memorial Park.
Hicks admits that 12 years ago he “wasn’t doing so well,” and hit some tough times. However, he went through the nine- month program at the Doe Fund, changed his attitude and was promoted to Queens supervisor as well as landing a separate job as the super of the building where he lives.
“We are big believers in leading by example,” Doe Fund Director of Business Development Work Ventures Joanna West said.
The program helps men — occasionally a few women — find full-time jobs in which they have the potential to develop a career, West said. Sometimes this includes a promotion within the nonprofit so enrollees can learn from their stories.
In addition to room and board, men in the program — the majority who are on average 38 years old, have 19 years of substance abuse and less than a high school degree — receive a tax free $7.40 an hour for their work. The on-the-job training gives these men stability as well as teaches them to show up on time and take directions from authority, West said.
“This is a hand up not a hand out,” she added.
Additionally, the men have access to counseling and classes, such as computer courses.
The funding, which will be in addition to what the Department of Sanitation already provides, will last until June 30, 2013, when Van Bramer said he hopes to renew the funds.
“This will help keep Woodside sparkling,” he said.
“Nothing is more important than a clean neighborhood,” Donovan’s Pub Manager Jack Donovan said, adding that clean streets help business.
In addition to cleaning roadways Van Bramer will be unveiling pigeon waste mitigation systems at the 52nd Street and 46th Street 7 train stops later this summer. Along with the typical nets, these stops will have an ultrasound system that emits hawk cries that only pigeons can hear, according to Van Bramer. This ultrasound system is used on Roosevelt Island.