The City of Omaha and The Salvation Army is ready to launch “A Way to Work,” a work readiness program that will provide employment, training and services to homeless people.
“’A Way to Work’” expands our commitment to workforce development and training. We will bring the dignity of work to those who are willing and able,” says Mayor Jean Stothert.
Stothert first announced the city’s intent to develop an employment program specifically for persons who are homeless and panhandlers in the 2018 State of the City speech. A program in Albuquerque, New Mexico, “There’s A Better Way,” provided an example of a successful program.
“We studied the Albuquerque model carefully,” Stothert says. “Our program builds on ‘There’s A Better Way,’ offering a good job and a good wage, tools for long-term success and additional resources The Salvation Army is trained to provide.”
Participants will be employed by The Salvation Army for a 90-day program that includes working at City of Omaha parks for two days a week at a rate of $10.00/hour. The City will provide transportation to and from job sites in a van marked “A Way to Work.”
Initial participants will be selected by referral from the Siena Francis House, while others will be recruited by the program coordinator or can apply for the program. The Salvation Army will screen all applicants to determine their eligibility. All will be subject to a background check and E-Verify. Up to six participants will be accepted for the program during each 90-day period.
Following successful completion, The Salvation Army will assist participants with employment applications and provide a letter of recommendation. Participants may also have the opportunity for future employment with the Parks Department.
“We always have seasonal job openings, and those who successfully complete this program may be good candidates for future employment with the City,” Parks Director Brook Bench says.
“A Way to Work” will be funded with $50,000 from the Community Service Funds budget in the 2018 City of Omaha General Fund. The Salvation Army will also contribute $50,000. A full-time Salvation Army employee will manage the program. The 2019 program will begin February 5 and conclude September 30.
Mayor Stothert will include funding for “A Way to Work” in the 2020 budget.