We have all heard the stereotypes about homeless individuals, so we want to take some time to set the record straight: homeless people do not want nor choose to be homeless; homeless people are not all criminals and addicts; and it is not too expensive to help the homeless population - in fact, it costs more in taxpayer and public funding to not help them!
One of the more prevalent, and perhaps most damaging stereotypes, is that homeless individuals are "lazy" and not interested in gaining employment. The Way Home is proving that stereotype wrong with its Income Now initiative.
Income Now is a simple concept: Connect homeless individuals with income that will help them secure and maintain permanent housing. Income can range anywhere from helping individuals with disabilities access Social Security Income/Disability benefits, to connecting The Way Home (and in turn, homeless individuals) to Houston's public workforce system: Workforce Solutions.
The Way Home hosted its first Hiring Event on April 29. More than 50 homeless clients were in attendance, ready to get back into the workforce. Nine employers met with clients, conducted interviews, and even hired five clients on the spot. More than 20 clients were given second interviews by employers. The event was a great success and those involved not only benefited but also really enjoyed the process.
"I loved the Hiring Event. I had never been to one before. I loved the people that helped me with my resume; I never did a resume before. I like the vendors from Goodwill because they looked at my resume and told me which jobs I qualified for and which jobs I didn't," said client Chasity.
Clients were also given the opportunity to attend a resume workshop two weeks prior to the event, and the Hiring Event opened a few hours early to allow clients to get in some interview practice and resume review with Income Now partners. Dress for Success and Career Gear provided professional outfits for the clients in attendance, and every client received a portfolio as they checked into the event. Makeup artists were even on hand to ensure that clients put their best face forward!
"The Income Now job fair was a great experience for me. I particularly liked the interview practice and the resume assistance we had right before our encounter with the employers. I also really enjoyed our clothing by Career Gear, thanks to SEARCH, and last but not least, I liked our gift cards. Everyone was welcoming and the general atmosphere was great," said client Moise.
Homeless individuals access Income Now when they complete a Coordinated Access assessment and receive a referral to the appropriate income type for their situation. Income Now partners include: Career and Recovery Resources, Inc., Coalition for the Homeless, Houston Area Community Services, SEARCH Homeless Services, SER Jobs For Progress, and Workforce Solutions.
Another hiring event is scheduled for August 2, 2016 as the Income Now program continues to expand.