Back in the workforce: Long Beach prepares to launch homeless employment program


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The City of Long Beach is aiming to give the local homeless population a chance to join the workforce.

Starting Nov. 15, City officials will be selecting participants for a Day-Work program to provide them base earnings and work-place skills.

Individuals experiencing various levels of homelessness, housed or unhoused, are eligible to participate in the program, according to Erick Serrato, assistant director for Pacific Gateway–– the public agency serving as the Workforce Development department for Long Beach.

According to Serrato, the City received $300,000 in grant money from the Long Beach Health and Human Services Department.

He added that the program will partner with homeless-outreach institutions such as the Multi-Service Center, The Long Beach Rescue Mission, Mental Health America and others.

According to a memo from Acting City Manager Thomas Modica, the program will aim to support 30 homeless participants.

Half of the participants will be given 320 hours of subsidized employment. The other half would be offered Supportive Employment Activities, which includes job-search assistance, work-readiness support and training scholarships of up to $7,500.

The memo reads that participants will be organized in three cohorts of five to seven individuals. Those selected for the program would be assessed to ensure they can carry out their workplace duties and screened for a basic background check.

Work shifts will take place on City-owned property, such as a park or a public-works site. Serrato said that program officials are still trying to find the best job sites to host the project.

The program’s participants will be given a snack and a full meal during their four- to five-hour shifts, according to the memo. A work assignment would last participants four months, and an employment liaison would supervise the participants on the job site. This position is partially funded by the grant and will be occupied by a former homeless individual, the memo states.

To receive payment, Serrato said the City is still working on the best method, but that it would be similar to the way Pacific Gateway pays participants of its youth summer-job program.

“What research and the best practices tell us is that these individuals need funds in shorter intervals than two weeks,” Serrato said. “So, we’re looking through our system to find a way to be able to pay them as quickly as possible–– as close to everyday, actually.”

Pacific Gateway is also planning to meet with the program’s participants at shelters or public place, such as a local coffee shop, to offer assistance programs such as child-care support.

The pilot program is expected to run until October 2020.

“Our goal is always to get at least 70% of the folks that we’ve been working with transitioned into competitive employment,” Serrato said. “We’ve been thinking really long and hard about how to best serve this population […] and we’re really excited about applying that.”