Getting back into the working world after a long period of unemployment is never easy. Many homeless individuals simply do not have the time or resources to maintain or find employment – they’re too busy trying to survive. Unfortunately, this makes it harder for people to return to work even when they feel ready to do so.
That’s why COA was happy to learn that the City of Long Beach has set up a year-long Day-Work program aimed at giving 30 homeless individuals a chance to work. The city began choosing people for this program on Nov. 15. Participants are selected on the basis of background screening and being willing and interested in participation.
Half of the individuals in the program will receive subsidized employment, while the other half will get professional assistance in finding jobs and obtaining new skills, and potential access to training scholarships. Funding for this effort comes from a $300,000 grant courtesy of the Long Beach Health and Human Services Department.
Entering the workforce after extended homelessness is a tremendous adjustment. The homeless must often focus on immediate needs, while employment typically demands a lot of long-term planning. It’s a skill that many will have to learn or re-learn. The Day-Work program gives people a chance to shift back into the routines of regular employment.
To help in the transition, the program will address other issues faced by many homeless individuals, like food security. Those working will receive a snack and a meal for each shift, making it easier to concentrate on the challenges and opportunities they will encounter. This is especially important given that the people involved may not have the means to reliably purchase their own food.
All shifts will take place on select Long Beach properties. The homeless participating in the program will receive payment for their work. Over time, the idea is that they will earn the means to stabilize their housing situation.
One particularly notable element is the employment liaison who will be observing the workers. The liaison is someone who has been homeless, which means they’ll better be able to understand some of the difficulties the workers may face.
This program goes some way in addressing the resume gap that’s been an obstacle for so many of the homeless who are trying to get back on their feet. Should the program be deemed successful, other cities may follow suit and offer similar opportunities.
Long Beach Homeless Ally Coming Soon
Another campaign helping homeless people can be found in Long Beach Homeless Ally. Scheduled to start in 2020, this program aims to connect with businesses and other institutions who want to help. They’ll be dubbed allies in this new system.
What does an ally do? In this case, allies will post stickers on their offices that identify them as such. This lets homeless people know where they can ask for assistance if they feel they need it.
Many people who are homeless suffer from the stigma surrounding the issue. It’s hard to know who to ask for help when you’re afraid you might be shamed simply for trying to find a place to stay, or to get a hot meal. The stickers let homeless individuals know where they can get help without judgment.
Long Beach is a big city, and like a lot of big cities in the area, many people are homeless. There are a lot of reasons for this, many stemming from rent and other high cost of living expenses. But there are also many doing what they can to help, whether that’s giving the homeless another chance at employment, or simply providing assistance.
COA to Help Provide First Steps, Supplement City Efforts
Here at Christian Outreach in Action, we focus on ensuring that the homeless have a safe place to get nutritious food, clothing, and even legal aid. Our services are often a first step for our clients. When and if they feel ready, we can help them move on to things like the Day-Work program. We applaud Long Beach for starting and maintaining multiple programs to assist those in need.