In an op-ed published in The Sun today, Mayor Catherine Pugh said the city is working to retool the Squeegee Corps program her administration launched in summer 2017, connecting the window washers with job training and social services.
The program would cost $2 million annually and enlist 100 young people in a year-round program involving landscaping, street cleaning and car washes while also offering educational classes on financial literacy and business planning.
Pugh wrote that her office hopes to line up funding for the program over the next two years with support from the private sector.
“To date, we’ve received our first $50,000 donation with only a conversation with a few business folks,” Pugh wrote. “And so you see, real solutions are in our grasp, and I’m confident that we can put forth a sustainable program for the squeegee kids of our city.”
The young window washers have received increased attention in recent weeks after the Downtown Partnership, citing anecdotal evidence of increasingly hostile encounters between drivers and the squeegee kids, moved to hire unarmed security guards for several downtown intersections. The guards would both try to connect the young people with services and help motorists.
At the time of that announcement, Pugh said her administration was working on a jobs program for the squeegee kids. In her op-ed today, Pugh wrote no motorist should expect to be harassed while idling at a stop light.
“What some of those eager to earn a dollar or two for washing a windshield do not sufficiently understand is that ‘no’ means just that — NO. It’s in these cases that unfortunate consequences, scenarios and impressions result.”
The mayor pointed to some of the successful results of the first Squeegee Corps, which held pop-up car washes outside City Hall and, in one instance, netted eight young people more than $700. Other kids were put to work in the BMORE Beautiful program, helping to clean debris from lots and city streets.
In order for this new program to have a sustainable impact, she wrote, the administration plans to have jobs and events more consistently.
“[M]any of these young people are truly entrepreneurial in spirit and want to work. They just need help, guidance and often some simple words of encouragement.”
Read the full op-ed here.