Aaron Geyer, manager of the city's Portland Opportunity Crew, talks to CBS 13 about the program, which offers panhandlers jobs working for the city. Credit: CBS 13

For two years, a Portland program has been getting panhandlers off the medians and working for the city.

Along Marginal Way, there are Portland Opportunity Crew signs encouraging the homeless to come work for the city, doing jobs such as cleaning up trash in parks.

However, not all panhandlers are taking the opportunity.

Many continue to stand on the median during the day.

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Mayor Ethan Strimling says funding needs to be increased for the project to boost its numbers.

In 2017, 17 people took part in the Portland Opportunity Crew.

Project Manager Aaron Geyer says that number jumped to at least 20 people this year.

The program is seasonal; running from May to mid-October.

Geyer says the goal is not necessarily to get a large number of panhandlers involved, but to have a long-term change in those who participate.

“The metrics that you use to measure the success of the program are on a wide range,” Geyer said. “So we talk about the number of individuals, we talk about removing 5.1 tons of trash from city parks this year and then another 150 or so needles from public spaces.”

The program manager says 1,200 total hours were given by participants this year.

City officials have not decided whether the program will remain seasonal or year-round next year.

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