Two Urban Alchemy employees walk side by side carrying a trash can and brooms in front of San Francisco City Hall

Current Solutions to Crime Are Not Working, Leap Says

Adjunct Professor of Social Welfare Jorja Leap spoke to the San Francisco Chronicle about Urban Alchemy, a nonprofit that hires formerly incarcerated individuals to address street-level issues rooted in addiction, mental illness and homelessness. The nonprofit employs 1,100 people in five cities across the United States, many of them people of color and individuals who have previously experienced homelessness. The organization has faced challenges, including two workers shot on the job and criticism that its employees do not have the appropriate licenses to police public spaces. However, Leap said she is confident that Urban Alchemy will overcome these obstacles. “Crime has gone up in America, the same old solutions are not working, so we’re going to see more growth in these areas … and there are going to be growing pains,” Leap said. “Whether you are an abolitionist or a police cheerleader, we all agree what’s been done in the past is not working.”


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