PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A program to connect returning inmates with jobs that beautify Philadelphia neighborhoods kicked off Wednesday with a job fair in City Hall.

The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s LandCare program has cleaned and greened 8,000 vacant lots. President Matt Rader says it will add 3,000 more to the roster by offering private contractors and community groups money to hire returning inmates.

“This work has an enormous impact on Philadelphia’s neighborhoods. It improves the health, safety and quality of life for residents and raises property values and now, it also increases opportunities for returning citizens,” said Rader.

City officials say the $500,000 cost of the program will result in long-term savings, as jobs have been shown to prevent repeat offenses.