AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — The City of Amarillo started a unique program in December — helping end homelessness and help keep Amarillo parks clean. The program is called Peer Reintegration Employment Partnership or “PREP” Academy.

Members of the PREP Academy are a part of the Coming Home Program selected for this pilot project. The team works 15 to 20 hours a week cleaning and sanitizing the City of Amarillo park facilities. And six of those team members are transitioning into part-time city employee positions.

City of Amarillo Community Development Director Jason Riddlespurger said the job that the PREP Academy does is physically demanding and some of the members of the PREP Academy were dealing with health issues and had to leave the program.

Riddlespurger added many people are looking at getting into the program ready to work and said this program has been a major success.

“My personal opinion is if we help one person if that one person is someone that we broke through the barrier they experienced over time and through this program, I’m able to move them into some sort of kind of employment they choose, its client-driven, its what they want. If I can help them meet those goals. I figure it’s a success on my part and the program’s success,” said Riddlespurger.

Riddlespurger said this summer they are looking at a possible expansion of the program.

The City of Amarillo partnered with several community leaders to help with this program including Workforce Solutions Panhandle, which is providing six weeks of salary and uniforms for participants. Hillside Christian Church North Grand Campus is providing use of their church to hold training sessions and lunch for participants, and Amarillo National Bank is providing free savings account for each participant, in addition to financial literacy training.

This year-long pilot project was funded by the Amarillo City Council with funds from the American Rescue Plan.