200 Jobs Lift DC’s Homeless Residents Out of Poverty
Every week a steady flow of job seekers arrives at the new Wisconsin Avenue office of AimHire. Friendship Place launched the job placement program in June 2011 to respond to the growing need on the street for jobs and opened the new site in the fall of 2013.
As it turns out, people are now finding jobs through AimHire in just over two months, on average; and stabilizing their housing or getting into new living situations, they pay for without public subsidies, in just under three months.
The program has drawn attention from service providers in DC Metro and provided technical assistance to a number of nonprofits in the area, helping them increase their job placement capacity. It also places job seekers who have been trained by and received skills from other nonprofit groups in the region.
AimHire is a perfect example of the new rapid solutions that are moving the field of homeless services forward and making it possible to end chronic homelessness in the country.
So with the new milestone of 200 jobs achieved, what’s our secret?
Well, first of all, I have to tell you that there is so much passion for the work among staff and volunteers at Friendship Place that you can feel it in the air! The incredibly motivated team is an inspiration to all.
Beyond this, the team, under the leadership of AimHire Director Jermaine Hampton, has just shown amazing perseverance and fortitude. With a targeted effort, it has developed the most effective job placement service model in the area focused on job development and retention support. Combining housing support with job placement assistance has also been found to be a key factor to increase retention.
From the beginning, AimHire has built one-on-one relationships with, now, over 200 employment partners in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. The entire team, which includes 15 dedicated volunteers with absolute gravitas, also crafted person-centered strategies for each of the 200 people who got jobs and worked to match each job seeker with a potential employer.
AimHire works with a wide range of employment partners: including mom and pop businesses on Wisconsin Avenue, hotels, hospitals, universities, IT offices near Dulles Airport, law firms on K Street and other generous and willing enterprises elsewhere in the City.
The goal is to make sure that every person coming through our doors can get a job regardless of his or her skill or education level.
Friendship Place does not “train and retrain,” — it finds personal solutions to lift people out of poverty now.
This is because the last thing somebody on the street wants to hear is that it’s going to take you six months to help them. So when folks come in, you need to start working with them immediately and offer solutions that work quickly and effectively.
At this point, the program is completely privately funded, including the new “Before Thirty” component, which, as its name indicates, focuses on specialized assistance to young adults under 30.
Before Thirty was launched in January and is already serving 16 people, several of whom are in families. The vision for this program is to develop approaches that help young adults with multiple challenges get a start in life at a time when this support can make a huge difference in their own life outcomes.
AimHire is seeking larger grants to meet the growing demand for job placement services in DC Metro. It has secured support from key partners in the City like Operation Hope, the Emergence Community Arts Collective and the Georgia Avenue Business Association to end the cycle of poverty in this area. With even more support, Friendship Place’s AimHire program will lift more of our homeless neighbors out of poverty, by placing more of them into jobs and homes.
By: Jean-Michel Giraud
Jean-Michel blogs for The Huffington Post on the Impact page.