WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (WPEC) — Along 44th and Broadway Street in West Palm Beach, day workers line up hoping someone picks them up and pays them in exchange for work.
However, officials say these workers don't have much support if something goes wrong. The West Palm Beach Police Department says the workers are sometimes targeted by robbers because they're known for carrying cash. This is what inspired Maricela Torres to create the Esperanza Community Center.
'Where instead of having the workers out on the street looking for work, they can come inside and wait for work there," she said.
Right now, the center only has an office on Broadway, but Torres has a vision to create a space modeled after El Sol in Jupiter where workers can safely wait for work, take literacy and English classes, and even get free legal or financial counsel to help them get on a path to legal citizenship.
"I felt like it was important for the Northwood community to have a resource center that they could trust, where if a problem came up they could come to us and it would offer some guidance and assistance," Torres said.
At the moment, funding is the main priority. It will cost more than $1 million to get a building large enough to contain the workers. The center says it's working on securing partnerships to make that happen, which includes the City of West Palm Beach.
City officials tell CBS12 News it hasn't received a formal proposal and therefore can't comment on it.
Other Northwood community members, like business owner Jamie Scruggs, says he supports the idea as long as it's not using taxpayer money.
"If this as big of an issue as it seems to be, if there are issues with their safety and exploitation and things like that, there should be plenty of private sources available to fund that," he said.
Beyond donations, the center is also looking for volunteers to help with someone of those resources. It needs help from teachers, attorneys, and even financial experts. If you'd like to help, click here.