Secure Jobs Connecticut — a state pilot program geared toward providing aid to homeless families — has already taken on eight New Haven families, just six months into operation.
Secure Jobs CT prevents the formerly homeless and unemployed from losing their jobs and houses by subsidizing their rent and increasing their short- and long-term earning power. Secure Jobs CT helps finance family members’ community college and GED educations, and also provides funding for work equipment and uniforms. The program emphasizes flexible financial assistance to help families overcome personalized challenges, such as child care and transportation, in an individualized way. The organization’s goal is to stabilize the lives of 50 formerly homeless families in two years.
“The beauty of philanthropy is that the investments that were given to each region’s [service] providers are determined [by themselves],” said Melville Charitable Trust Program Officer Rebecca Allen. “[They] tell us, the funders, how they want to spend this money.”
Launched last October, Secure Jobs CT was an independent initiative until July, when it fell under the umbrella of the CT Rapid Rehousing Program — a larger statewide and state-funded initiative.
Led by a coalition of 28 national and regional organizations, Secure Jobs CT derived its mission from Secure Jobs Massachusetts, a similar but unrelated effort that began two years ago. The Melville Charitable Trust, the main donor supporting Secure Jobs CT, contributed $50,000 to each of the five regions within Connecticut. Secure Jobs CT collaborates with half a dozen local service providers to allocate resources and services to individual families.
“Our role with homelessness has been not only [as] an investor, but also the managing agency, or what we call the ‘backbone’ function, for the coordinated access network,” said Amy Hall, vice president of income and health initiatives at United Way.
New Reach, a New Haven-based group that identifies and works closely with the families Secure Jobs CT helps, operates CTRRP and shares its resources with Secure Job CT. According to Kellyann Day, chief executive officer of New Reach, families must already be receiving services from CTRRP to be eligible for Secure Jobs CT. Families enrolled in CTRRP must be underemployed or unemployed and living in homeless shelters.
Day said Secure Jobs CT is successful because of contributions from private funders willing to take a risk on an innovative approach to tackling homelessness.
“It doesn’t always happen [in the nonprofit organization world],” Day said.
Hall said it is still unclear what will happen to Secure Jobs CT after its two-year pilot elapses.
Though she noted the program’s future depends on the success of the pilot program, the support Secure Jobs CT provides will always be in demand.
“What doesn’t go away is the need for this work,” Hall said. “The issue isn’t going anywhere, and we are universally committed to making progress on this issue.”
There are 12 children in total from the eight families enrolled in Secure Jobs CT.