PORTLAND, Maine — Maine’s biggest city hopes to expand a pilot program that employs panhandlers.

The Portland Press Herald reports the Portland Opportunity Crew was created last year to decrease panhandling in the city. Under the initiative, people are given job training, hired for minimum wage jobs and extended housing assistance. City Manager Jon Jennings says the program’s pilot run was a success.

Jennings hopes to continue the program next year. However, funding remains a challenge as the city’s budget tightens.

Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce CEO Quincy Hentzel says the business community liked the program. Hentzel says she will continue to speak with Jennings about the operation before she asks the board for support. Other business leaders have pledged support with employment opportunities.

Information from: Portland Press Herald, http://www.pressherald.com

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