City mowing program a win-win for jobless, neighborhoods

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In Hometown Live, a look at a city program that's freshening up neighborhoods and giving people work mowing lawns (KTRK)

There are plenty of bad lawns in town. In fact, way too many.

Kayte Tiptom, of the City Department of Neighborhoods, said, "It's like a cancer in a neighborhood. If a lot is unkept, then there will be another one and another one until the neighborhood is just gone."

So, about a year and a half ago, Houston started the Mow-Down program.

Tiptom said, "Folks who come out of prison or looking for a better life. It gives them something to do to make a living."

The eye sores are privately owned, but in an effort to clean up ugly lots, the city pays for the first cut.

Tiptom said, "You can often find tires, you can find large appliances, all sorts of things."

Then the city turns the lot over to community workers, like Pastor Wilford Dardin, of Jesus' Ministry.

Dardin said, "So the city allows us to create the work and as the guys get their skills they create their own businesses."

The project seems to be working -- a win-win - it's getting rid of an eye sore and putting people to work.

Dardin said, "Then we help them get those businesses off the ground so that they never return to homelessness, never to return to drugs, pay child support."

And there is never a shortage of work. There are simply too many bad owners with ugly lots. The city will go after them later, but in the meantime.

Dardin said, "There are a couple of guys that come who are homeless in their neighborhoods and now cutting their own yards."

And for these guys, it's an opportunity to learn skills they otherwise wouldn't have.
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