City Council approved a $50,000 pilot program on Wednesday to help assist homeless people with finding employment. The Homeless-to-Work program will employ 15 to 20 individuals in seasonal jobs and will also provide help with resumes and interview skills. The city funding will be matched by private donations.
Councilwoman Yvette Simpson, who worked on the initiative for several months with city administrators, reiterated her optimism for the program after Council approved it unanimously.
"I think if we can build a pilot program that creates a model for homeless individuals to go to work," she said, "I think it would be groundbreaking for our city and really start to peel back the layers of the issues we have in our community around poverty."
The program is based off of similar programs in Albuquerque, N.M. and Reno, Nev. and will operate in partnership with Keep Cincinnati Beautiful, Building Value LLC. the Cincinnati Parks Department, which will offer seasonal jobs, and Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority, which will offer free transit.
After an individual has shown competency with his or her seasonal employment, the program will offer a permanent position and will work with a casework for an additional year. Building Value and the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition, along with St. Francis-St. Joseph Catholic Worker House, will monitor the program, which will begin immediately.
"Our goal is to establish a sustainable program with a paycheck from the start and permanent employment outcomes," said Josh Spring, executive director of the Cincinnati Homeless Coalition, in a statement after the program passed.
One of the biggest concerns with the project was the funding source, which had initially been proposed to come from the city budget's reserves. City Manager Harry Black released a memo Wednesday saying the funding instead would be redirected from the Cincinnati Police Department's Mounted Patrol unit, which has been suspended since last year.
According to the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition, approximately 25,000 people in Cincinnati experience homelessness every year.