Amsterdam Project Pays Alcoholics with Beer

The Rainbow Foundation project decided to kill two birds with one stone and employed alcoholics to clean the streets

An Amsterdam project hopes to keep alcoholics busy by employing them and paying them with beer.

Is it ethical to pay an alcoholic with beer? A Dutch project seems to thinks so.

AFP reports that the Rainbow Foundation project has decided to "employ" a group of alcoholics to clean streets, paying them with €10 a day... and five cans of beer.

"This group of chronic alcoholics was causing a nuisance in Amsterdam's Oosterpark: fights, noise, disagreeable comments to women," Gerrie Holterman, of the Raindow Foundation project, told AFP. "The aim is to keep them occupied, to get them doing something so they no longer cause trouble at the park."

The day for the men starts at 9 a.m. with two beers and a coffee. There's a lunch break with another two beers, and a final beer at the day's end at 3:30 p.m.

"I think I can speak for the group and say that if they didn't give us beers then we wouldn't come," one man said. The men do show up and work, however, voluntarily.


Some people question the ethics of giving alcoholics beer (like giving junkies their fix), but generally, the neighborhood — and the men — seem satisfied. "They're no longer in the park, they drink less, they eat better, and they have something to keep them busy during the day," Holterman said. And the beer given is 5 percent, a lower ABV than what the men normally drink, one worker reports. It might not be a cure for chronic alcoholism, but perhaps it's a step in the right direction?