MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Piles of trash, tires, and mattresses are plaguing neighborhoods across Memphis. It’s a problem you’ve brought to WREG’s attention countless times.

A few months ago, WREG Investigators found out the city was having a tough time hiring people for its pickup program. After making our headlines last spring, the city said it upped its recruiting game, and new data we just uncovered shows it’s working.

Memphis leaders have said time and time again, that littering and illegal dumping is out of control. In 2020, the mayor announced an innovative way to address it.

“What we want them to do is something productive,” said Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland.

It’s called the Public Service Corps. Basically, it gives part-time work to those who can’t find a job, often due to their criminal record. They would be assigned to pick up the trash and blight plaguing the city.

The goal was to hire 100 people. In April, we learned from the mayor’s special assistant Ken Moody that they were nowhere close to that number.

“I think the last time we talked Jessica, we just had one shift from 7-12 and only had 18 individuals,” he said.

Moody said they’ve been more intentional with their recruiting by focusing on job fairs, spreading the word on social media, and meeting with church and community leaders.

Right now, they’re close to tripling their staff. 47 people are currently on the team, and they’ve been able to launch a second shift to respond to the blight.

“We are able to immediately respond. This isn’t a call to 311 and you have to wait. We immediately attack it once we are made aware of it,’ Moody said.

And when they are not on the clock…

“We’re going to help them with expungement, we are going to help them with driver’s license reinstatement assistance and of course, with jobs,” Moody said.

He says some hires have transitioned to full-time employment with the city.

“Because again, these are individuals that are no longer doing what they did in the past. They are coming to work to make an honest living and we are providing them that opportunity,” he said.

Moody says they will continue to recruit with the hope of inching closer to having 100 people on the team.

If you’re interested, this job can pay anywhere from $15.50 to $21 an hour. You can learn more about the job and apply here.

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