Board of Aldermen approves HANH employment program

In an effort to help city residents find stable employment as cold weather approaches, the New Haven Board of Aldermen endorsed a new program this week that will provide local construction jobs through the Housing Authority of New Haven.

The Board of Aldermen approved funding Tuesday night for the Commission on Equal Opportunities, which will work to provide residents living in HANH buildings with jobs constructing new HANH housing. The funding from the city will be supplemented by a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to support an additional program leading to permanent, well-paying jobs within local unions, Ward 10 Alderman Edward Mattison said. The program will begin next week with an orientation run by Strive New Haven, said Nichole Jefferson, the commission’s executive director.

CEO will help the housing authority employ its residents in its own construction projects, in addition to working with the unions to help residents secure permanent jobs, Mattison said. While the Housing Authority is already obligated to ensure that its residents work on its construction projects, he said the office had not been filling its quotas.

“They’re not in the hiring business,” Mattison said. “They’re in the housing business.”

The CEO was created in 1964 to help prevent discrimination against minorities in the New Haven area. Since she became executive director three years ago, Jefferson said, the commission has worked to employ local residents in school construction projects, with over 1,000 minority residents successfully securing employment.

“It’s already been pretty much a success with the school construction program,” Jefferson said.

Mattison said representatives from local construction unions came to the meeting to show their support for the program.

“The further advantage to [the unions] is that the money is paid to them mostly because they are the ones providing the apprenticing and training,” he said.

Working in HANH during the summer as a President’s Public Service Fellow, Cari Carson ’08 said she helped on fixing existing systems and laying the foundation for new programs to help increase the residents’ self-sufficiency. She said she and her co-workers encountered difficulties assisting residents with finding employment.

“Sometimes it’s just hard if you haven’t worked in a while,” she said. “It’s hard to get out of the habit of not working.”

Jefferson said each of 64 residents chosen for employment assistance will get to choose his own specific type of work, including carpentry and electrical work, and will participate in 8-12 week training programs with teachers from the local unions. If they are chosen to become apprentices within the union, they could eventually gain jobs paying $15-$40 per hour, she said.

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