San Jose city leaders Thursday launched a pilot program that pays homeless people to pick up trash at encampments.

During a news conference at Roosevelt Park, Mayor Sam Liccardo and Councilman Raul Peralez announced the Cash for Trash program, which partners the city with Valley Water and Mastercard under the BeautifySJ initiative.

The program is designed to battle blight across San Jose by incentivizing homeless residents to pick up trash at encampments in exchange for programmable and reloadable cards from Mastercard.

The cards would be loaded with $4 for each filled trash bag submitted, and the cards are programmed so they cannot be used to buy liquor, the mayor said.

Liccardo said Cash for Trash has been two years in the making and is a first-of-its-kind program in the U.S. It was initially launched in February, but the coronavirus pandemic put it on the back burner, he said.

The program is being paid for with existing funds from the budgets of the city of San Jose and Valley Water, Liccardo said.

BeautifySJ Program Director Olympia Williams and Mastercard representative Danielle Lam also were on hand at Thursday’s news conference.

San Jose earlier this week was recognized as the most innovative local government in the nation by the Center for Digital Government.


By Kelley Wheeler

Kelley Wheeler is a Metro reporter covering political issues and general assignments. A second-generation journalist, worked with all major news outlet, she holds a vast expeirience. Kelley is a graduate of USC with degrees in journalism and English literature. She is a recipient of Yale’s Poynter Fellowship in Journalism.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *