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Tulsa's A Better Way panhandler, homeless program exceeds expectations in first year

Posted at 12:41 AM, Nov 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-23 01:41:52-05

TULSA — “Homeless life is very rough. You have to know how to survive."

Jacob Banks has spent the last four years homeless, after a divorce.

Friday morning was his first day at a new, stable job with A Better Way program. It has helped 200 of Tulsa's homeless with jobs.

The program started as a way to get panhandlers and the homeless off the street, but has done much more than that in its first year.

The program pays a group of $65 to a group of eight people, three times a week for litter pick-up and maintenance-work.

Lisa Reser, the program services coordinator says, "You feel like giving them money is helping them. It helps them for that immediate need they have, but it's not sustainable."

Since A Better Way’s inception, more than 48,000 pounds of trash have been lifted from city streets and parks.

Banks says, "My life has changed because I feel that it has inspired me to get out there and do more hard work, to work a job -- nine to five, and to get up every day to go out there and be independent."

Working for A Better Way is just the first step. Program coordinators connect participants to resources and long-term jobs.

A.B.W. is a partnership between the city of Tulsa and the Mental Health Association of Oklahoma.

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