City of Independence, Missouri

Independence community partners to launch litter clean-up program

The City of Independence, Community Services League (CSL) and MODOT have partnered together to launch a new roadside litter clean-up program, Independence TOGETHER. The program focuses on addressing two key community priorities – assisting residents who are experiencing unstable housing and community beautification.

Through the program, individuals who are unhoused or experiencing unstable housing will be paid for their work cleaning up roadside litter along main streets. 

“We are taking steps to focus on the beautification of our City,” Mayor Rory Rowland 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 and is funded through $100,000 of ARPA funds. The program was approved by the Independence City Council on March 20 and officially launched on March 27.

“CSL is pleased to be part of this effort that marries strategies that get people into permanent housing and permanent employment, along with providing a valuable service to our community,” Community Services League President and CEO Doug Cowan said.

The pilot program will run until September 27, 2023, at which point the council will have the option to extend the program.

Crews will walk along roadsides and remove litter and other various illegally dumped materials throughout the city. Priority areas for service will be the major east-west corridors (24 Hwy., Truman Rd., M-78, I-70, 40 Hwy., 35th Street and 39th Street), the major north-south corridors (Blue Ridge Blvd., Sterling, Noland, Lee’s Summit, M-29) and along park and historic sites.

"Residents regularly express their frustration about the trash along major highways in our community and this program gives us another way to address it,” At-Large City of Independence Councilmember Dr. Bridget McCandless said. “We have seen similar programs work in other communities and we are tremendously excited about the potential this has to help Independence too.”

Those who are eligible to participate in the program include anyone: living on the streets or in their car, living temporarily in a hotel or motel, ‘couch surfing’ with friends or family, living in a halfway or sobriety house, in a CSL transitional housing program, with disabilities or unaccompanied minors.

Employees will be paid a wage of $12/hour daily. In addition to the hourly wage, an additional $3 per hour will be put in escrow toward a housing savings fund. After 100 hours, and every subsequent 100 hours, workers can request the $300 be paid toward any housing expense. These might include daily/weekly/monthly motel rentals, past due rent and utilities, deposits on new utility services or apartment rental, or any other expense that promotes permanent, stable housing.

Independence TOGETHER employees will work on a supported employment basis, meaning CSL is not expecting employees to work 40 hours immediately. Employees will have an opportunity to build their work stamina slowly increasing their weekly hours.

On top of monetary benefits, employees will be provided with proper work attire and supplies, including a high-visibility safety vest. Breakfast and lunch will also be offered to employees on shift.

Through its integrated service model, CSL will also work to connect employees with housing resources, attempt to place them in permanent jobs and assist in securing the appropriate state-issued identification and documents needed to enter the workforce.