A German city is launching a program aimed at getting alcoholics and drug addicts off the streets by paying them with beer and cigarettes, among other things, for doing menial cleaning jobs. The pilot called “Pick Up” is being tested with 10 homeless addicts who normally loiter in public spaces in Essen city center. “We want to use these incentives to bring back a routine for these people and provide additional care at our facilities,” Baerbel Marrziniak from Suchthilfe Direkt, a community organization aimed at helping addicts, told NBC News. The initiative will be monitored by a doctoral student from a local clinic who will take blood samples and other scientific data to track its impact on participants.
The program set to start on Wednesday and inspired by a Dutch project in Amsterdam faces heavy criticism. “This is not about the human being, as officials claim,” said Horst Renner, who works at a homeless charity in the nearby city of Krefeld. “The city wants to get the homeless out of public sight.” Some not-for-profit organizations worry that donors will no longer support the cause if addicts are given alcohol. “It should not be tolerated that beer is served to severe alcoholics, paid with public funds,” Renner added.