Destination: Home is coordinating a new initiative to create living-wage employment pathways for men and women transitioning out of homelessness. In Santa Clara County, a single adult must earn at least $17.82 per hour with health benefits and retirement to meet their basic needs, according to the County of Santa Clara’s living-wage standard. Given that reality, several pilots have begun linking households currently receiving time-limited rental assistance and case management to jobs in high-growth industries like healthcare, building and construction, and advanced manufacturing. This work is guided by the Community Plan to End Homelessness. We know that a better paying job coupled with a short-term housing subsidy is an effective strategy to end homelessness for non-chronically homeless individuals and families at risk of homelessness.
Thanks to a new partnership funded by the County of Santa Clara and City of San Jose, our county’s housing and workforce development systems are aligning toward dedicated pathways to employment and creating jobs through social enterprise specially designed with support services to aid in a person’s transition out of homelessness. Our partners provide technical and soft-skills training along with support in accessing employment placement paths with local employers. We are coordinating a system around common outcomes – including job placements, wage levels and job retention.
Tim Pang, who served in the Navy from 2008-2012, and Billy McNeil, who served in the Army from 1989-1993, are both wartime Veterans who have finally landed on stable ground. Getting to this point did not come easy. It took hard work and faith that a new employment initiative would pay off. Tim and Billy were looking for a career in the building and construction trades when they came across Working Partnerships’ Trades Orientation Program (TOP), an industry recognized pre-apprenticeship which prioritizes formerly homeless men and women through a pilot partnership with the Office of Supportive Housing. In January, a cohort of 13 Veterans, connected through the All the Way Home Campaign, embarked on a six-week introduction to everything involved in constructing buildings. Classes included blueprint reading, applied algebra, and field trips to area apprenticeship centers.
The Building & Construction Trades Council estimates $16-20 billion in development projects are planned around the South Bay over the next 5-10 years that will provide many living-wage employment opportunities. Pang shares, “no experience is necessary.” The building and construction trades teach everything, including the basics of how to hold a hammer, while at the same time paying apprentices a living-wage. All that is needed are men and women ready to show up, work hard, and change their lives through a rewarding career pathway. TOP graduates can gain priority to job and apprenticeship opportunities.
“After graduating TOP, I’ve noticed my thinking is positive, I’m confident I can accomplish anything I work toward – I never felt like that before,” reflected McNeil.
Both are grateful for the support received from the Veterans Administration and Working Partnerships. Tim and Billy graduated the Trades Orientation Program in March, and are now earning a living-wage as carpenter’s apprentices. They are working for two different subcontractors building the new Apple Campus, dubbed “The Spaceship,” and feel stable in employment, health benefits, retirement, and camaraderie with coworkers.
“I have so much more freedom now: to pay bills, to live life,” said Pang.
Alliance Credit Union aims to be one of the most community minded credit unions in the Silicon Valley, and we are lucky to have them as partners.
“In such a crowded market, the only way we can differentiate ourselves is by doubling down on our efforts to support our community and sustainable business practices,” imparts CEO Brian Dorcy.
Putting this strategy into practice, Alliance Credit Union recently named our Executive Director, Jennifer Loving, a “Hometown Hero” for her commitment to ending homelessness during an on-field presentation at the San Jose Giants game.
And that oversized check? A generous donation to directly support our employment initiatives! Thank you, Alliance Credit Union for supporting pathways out of homelessness.