Jobs Connect – Paving a Path Out of Homelessness
“Some people need a little extra step to get back to where they were in life.”
A man named Roland (pictured below) shared that perspective at a press conference on Wednesday, March 23 at the Millionair Club. Roland is getting that little extra step thanks to a new program called Jobs Connect.
The Downtown Seattle Association (DSA), United Way of King County, the city of Seattle and the Millionair Club Charity have launched this employment program to connect homeless individuals in Downtown Seattle to unfilled jobs.
The Metropolitan Improvement District (MID), managed by the DSA, is the anchor employer for Jobs Connect, offering work with the DSA/MID Clean Team. The clean team patrols the streets of Downtown, picking up trash, removing graffiti and pressure-washing sidewalks, among other tasks. The MID identifies how many workers are needed the following day and fills those jobs with Jobs Connect participants.
“The Jobs Connect program allows our DSA/MID Clean Team to cover more ground and keep downtown clean, but there’s also a larger need that’s being met,” said DSA President & CEO Jon Scholes. “This program helps provide a path toward housing and stability to get people on a track that will improve their lives. We’re thrilled to be an anchor employer and to partner with these organizations to address homelessness in our city. The scope of the challenge we face around homelessness requires that we collaborate on new approaches.”
Utilizing a mobile strategy, Millionair Club Charity outreach workers are circulating through Downtown on foot and in Jobs Connect vans, focused on engaging and enrolling visible individuals.
Supportive services and assistance are provided to eliminate the common barriers that prevent many homeless people from working such as transportation, access to certification, storage of personal items and hygiene facilities. The connection is rapid, with an assessment and services being delivered on day one, and on-the-job paid training beginning at $12 per hour on the second day.
“We have people on the street who want to work, jobs going unfulfilled and many generous residents who want to help,” said United Way of King County CEO Jon Fine. “Jobs Connect is an effective solution, with the potential to create an upward spiral in someone’s life that can make a real impact. “
As the program grows to scale, additional Downtown employers will be identified who employ workers on an ‘as needed basis’ as well as additional employment specialists, outreach workers and Jobs Connect vans.
Start-up costs for Jobs Connect have already been raised with an initial investment of $92,000 from the city of Seattle, and an additional $85,800 raised from private philanthropy through United Way of King County. United Way plans to raise an additional $248,300 by July 1, 2016 to significantly expand the program.
Expected first year client contact will number 3,000 individuals with a take up rate of 40 percent.
“We must shift the focus to longer-term solutions to homelessness, more than mats on the floor,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “We must talk about opportunity and hope for the future. I want to thank all the private employers who are making these job opportunities available. You are giving a precious gift – a brighter tomorrow.”
To learn more about the Jobs Connect program visit www.uwkc.org/ending-homelessness/jobs-connect.
Jobs Connect in the News:
The Seattle Times – Jobs over tents for the homeless