INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — The city is taking steps to do a little spring cleaning, but it’s going to take everyone to make a difference.

Independence launched it’s new roadside litter clean-up program Tuesday morning.

The city of Independence, Community Services League, and the Missouri Department of Transportation are behind the push.

The three groups say the program addresses making the community better while also helping people who are experiencing unstable housing.

Through the program, people who are unhoused, or experiencing unstable housing, will be paid to help pickup litter along streets.

Anyone who finds themselves in the following situations are eligible to participate in the program:

  • Living on the streets
  • Living in a vehicle
  • Living in a motel
  • Living in a halfway or sobriety house
  • Couch surfing
  • Living in CSL transitional housing program
  • Anyone with disabilities
  • Unaccompanied minors

Each worker will be paid $12 an hour. In addition to the wage, an additional $3 per hour will be put in escrow to use toward a housing savings fund for the individual.

After each 100 hours worked, each worker can request the $300 be paid toward any housing expense. Expenses can include:

  • Rent
  • Motel room rentals
  • Past due rent and utilities
  • Deposits on new utilities
  • Other expenses needed for permanent, stable housing

Each employee will also be provided with proper work attire and supplies in addition to their pay checks.

Breakfast and lunch will also be offered to any employee on shift when the meals are served.

Employees are not expected to work 40 hours a week immediately. They will be allowed to build up their work stamina and slowly increase weekly work hours.

Community Services League also plans to work with employees to find housing options, permanent jobs, and work to get the appropriate IDs needed to work.

“We are taking steps to focus on the beautification of our City,” Mayor Rory Rowland, Independence, said. “The Independence TOGETHER program will be supported by monthly trash clean-ups, and we hope this inspires our residents to help carry the work into their neighborhoods too.”

Independence TOGETHER stands for Together Opportunities Grow Everyone To Help Empower Resiliency.

The program is funded through American Rescue Plan Act funding.

The pilot program will run six months, from March 27 through September 2023. The city council plans to revisit the program at that time to judge the successfulness of TOGETHER and whether the program should be extended.