Grant Provides Workforce Funds for Homeless and Homeless-at-Risk

A coalition of Western Massachusetts organizations is launching a pilot program aimed at providing homeless families and those at risk of becoming homeless with the resources they need to enter the workforce.

The program is geared towards families already receiving housing assistance through the state. Pamela Schwartz heads the Western Massachusetts Network to End Homelessness — one of the organizations involved with the program. She says over the coming year, it will map out personal employment strategies with participants. Those plans will cover everything from from child care and transportation to linking up with training and certification opportunities.

“Our goal is to place 76 heads of households into jobs and by the end of their first year of support have 80 percent retention, meaning 61 heads of households are still in those jobs.”

Department of Housing and Urban Development undersecretary Aaron Gornstein says since July, the state has moved around 45 percent of homeless families staying in hotels and motels to more permanent affordable housing. He says these kinds of programs can help prevent families from returning to homelessness.

“It gives people a real opportunity to increase their incomes and then they may not have to rely on taxpayer assistance for their housing.”

Gornstein says the $300,000 investment could save the state a lot of money over the long term. The program will serve families in Hampshire, Hampden, Franklin and Berkshire counties.