Candidate Joel Lopez puts the homeless to work

Joel Lopez
Once Lopez and his team of homeless workers got going, they expanded their territory to include many of the city’s commercial districts.

Frustrated by street trash, the SJ City Council candidate takes action

■ By Chris Smith / Advisory Editor

While most people just complain about trash along the street or in vacant lots and bemoan the fact there are so many homeless people wandering around not working, San Jacinto City Council candidate Joel Lopez is doing something about it.
Last week Lopez put the need to clean up trash around San Jacinto together with the need for homeless people to do something constructive with their time. He hired a squad of them to pick up the city’s trash.
“At first I just offered them something to drink and eat, and they were more than eager to help,” says Lopez of his mini make-work program. Later on, he decided they were so enthusiastic and worked so hard that they should be paid, and he’s paying them $10 per hour. While he started out with five people, the team has now grown to 17, and one of them is helping Lopez supervise.
Lopez bought the garbage bags and the bright vests for his cadre of homeless workers and made sure they were adequately supervised. The result? Hundreds of pounds of trash cleaned up from vacant lots along State Street in San Jacinto. When he realized he and his team were on a roll, he expanded the clean-up area to include the city’s shopping centers along the main boulevards and their adjacent fields. So far his crew has retrieved nearly 30 bags of trash.
If the city looks a little cleaner than it has, thank Lopez and his homeless work crew.
According to Lopez, there are two types of people in the world. Those who talk about working – and those who get their hands dirty and get in and do the work. Needless to say, this city council candidate is willing to dive in and get things done.

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