By Kelly Ryan

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A new program sponsored by the city of Sacramento is seeing success by encouraging the homeless to help clean up abandoned encampments of trash and debris.

A clean-up crew hitting the Del Paso Heights area is made up of volunteers that are part of a new group called the Downtown Streets Team.

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Most of them also share something else in common: nearly all have been or currently are homeless.

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Willie says the team has helped him and others in getting a new lease on life.

“Picking up cigarette butts and paper can change your life, give you some direction, give you some motivation that you’re doing something. Then you start doing a little more.”

Robert has been homeless on and off for the past 20 years.
“Yes it does lift my spirits, I’m doing something good for the city, something good for the people.”

Rachel Davidson is the team’s project manager.

“They go into the encampments up-and-down Del Paso Boulevard and other neighborhoods, cleaning up litter and debris,” she said.

The city implemented the program in January as a way to mitigate potential impacts from the North Sacramento Triage Center.

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The volunteers don’t get paid, but they do get a stipend.

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“It’s like a credit card,” says David, “basically helps us with our needs as far as buying clothes and food.”

Mayor Darrell Steinberg tells CBS13, “Their program helps people regain their lives by giving them responsibility, skills training, and compensation in addition to helping keep the North Sacramento community beautiful.”

“I just want to beautify our neighborhood,” says Shannon.

And so do many others. There’s already a waiting list.

The program is funded for 25 volunteers, 35 have already signed up.

The program has four months of funding that began in January.

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The organization is hoping to get enough funding to continue year round and even grow in the Sacramento area.