Homeless helping clean up Daytona in exchange for food, shelter

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - A new program in Volusia County is empowering the homeless and cleaning up Daytona Beach at the same time.

Those who participate get a free place to stay and warm meals in exchange for their time cleaning up the area.

Edna Hirsh lost her job three years ago and went of food stamps and unemployment, but the help ran out and she was forced to live on the street.

Now, Hirsh and others are working in the very same area they once called home. It's a program that has been set up to help the homeless get back on their feet and keep Daytona clean in the process.

"Part of the program is get up in the morning and help clean up the streets," said Hirsh.

"People would come down, get harassed by homeless and panhandlers," said Anthony Deobil, director of social services at the Salvation Army.

The program is called the Streets Team of downtown Daytona Beach.

"This is a joint effort by the Salvation Army, the city of Daytona and federal grant money," said Deobil.

"The streets are cleaner than before," said Hirsh.

And when those who participate aren't picking up trash, they're busy searching for jobs.

"I go to Goodwill every day and hopefully one day it will pan out," said Hirsh.

"Once they get a job, they're required to put 85 percent of the money away and we will then help them with their rent to help them get a place," said Deobil. "This whole location, streets, years ago were very dangerous."

It's now an area of Daytona that officials are trying to bring back to life while helping others get their own lives back.

The program has had such success that funding was just approved to add a fourth team in the coming weeks.