A local service center that provides street outreach, case management, permanent housing solutions, and basic needs for those experiencing homelessness has another option for their neighbors.
WFYI’S Terri Dee spoke with Director of Development and Communications Marcie Luhigo about Horizon House’s job readiness workshop, which serves as a support system for participants before and after employment.
Terri Dee: The homeless are often perceived as lazy, not wanting to work, and aren't doing enough to find a job. But there are other conditions that impact their circumstances. Can you explain Marcie, on the barriers faced by the homeless in their job search, despite the current employee shortage that we hear about in the news every day?
Marcie Luhigo, director of development and communications: The individuals that we're working with that are experiencing homelessness often have complex barriers that can include not having proper identification, which can include a birth certificate, a driver's license, those basic things that you need when you go to apply for a job, as well as background check issues and concerns.
Sometimes it's a matter of us helping to advocate or us just working with employers to understand what background issues a problem for that employer is, because we certainly don't want to set people up to go to interviews where they don't have a chance because of something like that. Some of our neighbors have health challenges, a lack of clean clothing, or transportation obstacles.
Dee: So, upon a person finding work and they have income coming in, what are some of the other situations and circumstances that he or she now has to face once they have secured employment?
Luhigo: Until they have that steady income, they may still be experiencing homelessness. Horizon House is a place where they can shower; have access to appropriate work clothing, and we can provide bus passes that give them that transportation resource until they're able to fund that on their own.
Dee: I understand Horizon House has a job readiness workshop to assist in employment for the homeless. What do participants in the workshop learn?
Luhigo: Our job readiness workshops offer a variety of training, information coaching and encouragement, and that includes setting them up with the hope of hearing stories of individuals that have been successful in gaining employment, working on some of those job readiness, soft skills that help them when they go into the employer environment. What is it going to take for them to show some coaching encouragement, as well as opportunities to connect with maybe job training helps them be better ready to be a good employee are certain positions that they are very interested in?
We also try to inspire in a hope to go for what we would call gainful employment. So that living wage that will really help them to improve their circumstances, jobs where they can move up jobs that have a wage that would actually allow them to afford an apartment. We also often do follow along where we're checking in with them and it's a place for them to process if they are encountering a situation and they need someone to encourage them or talk them through, i.e., what do I need to do; this came up at work and that really helps them to stay employed for 90 days and beyond.
We also have some individuals who have been long term with employers seeing promotions, and they're always excited to connect back with our employment coordinator and share those opportunities and what they're doing now.
Dee: Thank you for your information today.
Luhigo: Yes, and thank you. I really enjoyed talking to you this morning.
Contact WFYI All Things Considered newscaster and reporter Terri Dee at firstname.lastname@example.org