There are many reasons why people become homeless. Loss of work is the tipping point for many. Without work, people cannot pay rent, and landlords cannot house people for free. The pandemic has exacerbated instability for many. When we connect individuals with the training and support needed to secure a good job, it is often a critical step to stability.
In 2019, we created a pilot program, with support from the Lucky Duck Foundation, San Diego Housing Commission and San Diego Regional Task Force on the Homeless, to connect housing providers and the workforce system using one-time funds from the Department of Labor. We built a web-based custom data solution to provide efficiencies for all partners and measure outcomes.
The pilot used one-to-one support braided with other support services and focused on customer choice, rapid job search and ongoing support once placed. The outcome: the pilot was very successful. The challenge: programs require ongoing funding and the federal funds expired.
But the good news is we can restart the project at any time. The system is in place, we have deep connections with employers and we are poised to serve. With investment from all sectors (public, private and philanthropy), we can make a profound impact in our shared desire to end homelessness.
Three tracks were developed where team-based case managers and participants worked together to determine the optimal track. Transportation and childcare assistance were made available to all.
- Track 1: Career Center – Referred to a center where they were able to self-direct their job seeking process.
- Track 2: Achievement Academy – Services such as career planning, job skills and financial education were provided by the Housing Commission
- Track 3: Individual Placement and Support – Intensive services were provided with the most significant barriers to employment. Resume building, interview prep, job development, follow-up after placement and additional support services were provided.
During the pilot, 185 participants were referred to a track, 65% had face-to-face contact with an employer within 30 days of enrollment and 45 gained permanent employment. Other critical support services were provided including bus passes, clothing, food and gas cards.
In order to continue this work, funding is needed and welcome from all sectors: public, private and philanthropy. With additional funding, the Workforce Partnership and its partner(s) would:
- Grow our network of partners, including mental health/substance abuse and childcare services
- Utilize data to inform additional strategies to improve employment retention for clients
- Further define staff roles and expectations for all partners
- Conduct additional staff training on available resources and processes
- Develop a process for a comparison group for stronger evaluation