© 2024
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

MA Provides Funding For Homeless Workforce Training Initiatives


Recession-era unemployment insurance benefits are set to run out for at the end of the month as lawmakers in Washington make progress in passing the first balanced budget in four years. In the meantime, Massachusetts has provided funding for employment programs for the homeless.

If things remain as is on Capitol Hill, about 1.3 million current unemployment beneficiaries will lose aid. An additional 1.9 million who would have been eligible for federal aid in the first half of 2014 would also be affected. Nancy Snyder is the president of the Commonwealth Corporation that administers state funding for workforce training programs.

“There may actually be a pretty immediate reaction because if people don’t have any time left on their state unemployment insurance then their unemployment insurance will stop,” Snyder said. “That will absolutely have an effect on their livelihood, their ability to pay rent or bills, etc. The Department of Unemployment Assistance and theDepartment of Career Services are reaching out to folks and really trying to put some outreach and information together in order to be able to help serve folks who are affected that way.”

The state Office of Labor and Workforce Development recently announced it will provide $1.7 million in hopes of placing 320 homeless individuals in stable employment opportunities over the next two years. Snyder says the money will be distributed to seven agencies spread across the entire state.

“It may be people who had a job and then because of something that happened in their life, it might be that they lost their apartment because they couldn’t make the rent, it may be that they had a mental health issue, there’s any number of things that could have gotten in the way of people being able to keep their job,” she explained. “And, it may be someone who is on the younger side who actually doesn’t have a lot of employment experience. This really helps them to find their first job.”

She says this is the first time her agency is distributing funding specifically targeting workforce development for the homeless.

“With the homeless individuals a number of the projects are partnering with organizations in health care, transportation, retail and culinary arts,” she said. “It’s usually in industries that have a number of entry level jobs where people can really start their work experience and then move up.”

$230,000 will be provided to the Western Homeless Employment initiative covering Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin and Berkshire counties. According to data collected by the organization, there were nearly 2,800 persons living outside, in shelter, or in transitional housing in Western Massachusetts on a single night in January 2013. The money is expected to move 70 individuals 18 years or older into stable jobs. ServiceNet is one of four agencies that make up the Western Homeless Employment initiative. Jay Sacchetti says since July, his organization alone has secured permanent housing for more than 30 people and moved 15 of them into jobs.

“If people don’t have a job they don’t have a meaningful day or life so it does more than just put money in their pocket,” Sacchetti said. “It gives them the motivation to get up every day.”

Jim is WAMC’s Assistant News Director and hosts WAMC's flagship news programs: Midday Magazine, Northeast Report and Northeast Report Late Edition. Email: jlevulis@wamc.org
Related Content