After listening to a really good piece about the homeless at the Nuyorican, it really got me thinking – why are there so many homeless people? So I ended up having a short chat with two of them – laid off, no job, surprisingly well-spoken. So are these the people who make micro-lending work?
There must be many jobs around town that they could perform to make enough money to get something to eat. But for that, they need some basic skill and presentation. So perhaps it might be a good idea to have a city-driven program that would:
1) offer information pamphlets giving information in an accessible manner
2) offer testing services to evaluate one’s knowledge of the material, for which the test-taker would be paid some miniscule amount of money.
The main idea is that there is a level of income that makes a person content. The presumption (albeit may be a false one) is that a homeless person would prefer to make money through work, but lacks the knowledge or the initial funds (which is why micro-credit lending works). Therefore they need to be given immediate insentive in form of money to learn the material, and then be given incentive in form of ability to provide services to make an income.
What are services that they could perform:
1) personal guide serivices to tourists talking about a particular place (cheap, personal, of questionable reliance) – more money to be made than through retaking the test.
2) cleaning – some places are filthy. This is a fairly easy job that could be hour-less that would do several things at once
3) artistic projects – grafitti – would require some basic skills
Work on the outskirts closer to poor neighborhoods – becoming a teacher to make kites, a helping hand, etc. The trick is setting up a credible system of giving financial reward for rendered services.