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Philly launched a program to put homeless people to work. Here’s what happened.

As a Monday morning rain rinsed LOVE Park and chased early commuters into their offices, 34 people gathered by the LOVE sculpture and waited impatiently for a lottery to begin.

Roberto Valdez, an outreach worker from Mental Health Partnerships (MHP), read out the numbers, and wide grins broke out. There was a little impromptu dancing. A grown man jumped up and down.

Then, as the unlucky majority shuffled away — some grumbling theories about a rigged system — the 10 winners filed into Suburban Station to claim their reward: a morning’s work with Mural Arts Philadelphia and, at the end of it, a payday.

Brigette Felix, 49, said it was a valuable opportunity to work her way out of a bout of homelessness that has stranded her in a West Philadelphia women’s shelter for close to a month, and a temporary reprieve from the reality of her situation.

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