NETHERLANDS-SOCIAL-ALCOHOLISMAmsterdam Alcoholics Are Given Beer to Clean Streets
By Erika Watts

Getting paid in beer might sound like a pretty sweet deal for some of us, but many are questioning Amsterdam’s new program that gives alcoholics beer to clean the streets. As odd as this sounds, Amsterdam officials say these people are actually consuming less alcohol per day now thanks to the program.

The homeless people who participate in this government-funded street cleaning program are given five cans of lager, half a packet of rolling tobacco and the equivalence of around $11 USD per shift to clean the streets. They are also given a hot lunch. The officials are pretty strict about when these people can consume their beer–they are allowed two beers before work, two at lunch and one after their shift is over. Beer before and during work? It’s easy to see why some people question the program. (But wouldn’t most of us like to get on board for that?)

Since many people are questioning Amsterdam’s “pay alcoholics beer to work” policy, the leader of this group, Gerrie Holterman, addressed the concerns. “This group of chronic alcoholics was causing a nuisance in Amsterdam’s Oosterpark: fights, noise, disagreeable comments to women,” she said. “The aim is to keep them occupied, to get them doing something so they no longer cause trouble at the park. They’re no longer in the park, they drink less, they eat better and they have something to keep them busy during the day. Heroin addicts can go to shooting galleries, so why shouldn’t we also give people beer?”

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