Denver, CO

Homeless people can earn $90 cash daily with Denver Day Works

David Heitz
Bayaud Enterprises operates laundry trucks staffed by people experiencing homelessness for people experiencing homelessness.Denver Day Works/City and County of Denver

By David Heitz / NewsBreak Denver

(Denver, Colo.) The Denver City Council likely will add $41,000 next week to a popular program that puts people experiencing homelessness to work.

The item is on a committee consent agenda, which includes items considered routine. Contracts automatically are approved if no council member calls the item out for discussion. Bayaud Enterprises administers Denver Day Works. The city has spent $1.4 million with Bayaud for Denver Day Works since 2021.

“Funds will be used for participant wages, services provision, and staffing,” according to a memo from the Department of Housing Stability to the council. “The additional funds are necessary because demand for the program is higher than anticipated after it reopened from the previous pandemic closure. Bayaud will provide outreach and recruitment to at least 220 homeless individuals.”

Cash, meals, and a bus ticket

Denver Day Works helps people experiencing homelessness ease back into the work force. The program’s clients get $90 cash each day, three days per week. Many people experiencing homelessness do not have a bank account or even identification for cashing checks.

Participants also get breakfast, lunch, and a bus ticket. They work a seven-hour shift from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. with an hour for lunch. The program runs for 10 weeks. After that, some participants find permanent jobs.

“Since the program launched in November 2016, more than 487 people have participated in the program and earned more than $1,062,054 in wages/benefits across a variety of different work sites,” according to the Denver Day Works website. “Thus far, 234 participants have found permanent employment, with 38 of those participants finding work with the City and County of Denver.”

Working for the City of Denver, others

The job site is easy for people experiencing homelessness downtown to get to. Work starts and stops at Civic Center Park. Work sites include:

  • Denver Parks and Recreation
  • DOTI (Department of Transportation and Infrastructure) in fleet maintenance, wastewater, and solid waste
  • Denver Public Library, multiple branches
  • Denver Human Services
  • Ballpark District
  • Denver Public Works
  • Downtown Denver Partnership
  • RiNo Art District
  • Denver Elections
  • Bayaud Enterprises

The program sometimes has a waiting list. Applicants must be homeless and attend an orientation to qualify. Orientations are 1-3 p.m. on non-holiday Mondays at Bayaud Enterprises, 303 W Bayaud Ave.

The program also connects clients to other supports for people experiencing homelessness, even housing.

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I've been in the news business 35 years, spending much of my career in editing roles at local newspapers in Los Angeles, Detroit, and the Quad-Cities of Illinois and Iowa. Upon moving to Denver in 2018, I began experiencing severe mental illness due to several traumatic experiences. I became homeless on the street for about a year before spending time in the state mental hospital. I am living proof that people can rebound from mental illness with proper treatment, even after experiencing homelessness. I consider myself a lucky guy to live in a great place like Denver. I hope my writing reflects the passion I have for living here.

Denver, CO

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