Create a job club for single homeless adults and a non-profit temporary service.

This is a second in a series of articles on the proposals of homeless people and other members of the community to substantially reduce homelessness in Cleveland.

The big news is welfare reform, and the community is meeting on a regular basis to address the needs of adults who may be expelled from the welfare roles. They have created a giant bureaucracy to move people into the workforce. This was not done when all those single adults were cut from General Assistance in the early 1990s. There was no community initiatives or attempts to move single men into livable wage jobs.

There are many homeless people working 20 to 40 hours a week in horrible low wage jobs who may work 20 years and never make enough to get a place. It is amazing that a person can work full time for minimum wage and not be able to afford a place to stay.

What needs to happen is that the City of Cleveland, where most homeless people reside, and Cuyahoga County need to create a job club for single adults who are not eligible for public assistance. This means a place to talk about possible job opportunities and work on getting jobs together. This would mean approaching employers about hiring people on the streets after the complete a training program. This would also mean constructing links with educational opportunities for single homeless adults.

The City has come along way with the redesigned Job Training Partnership Act program, but there are still major hurdles for getting homeless people into the program.

Many of the homeless who work are forced to work at what homeless people characterize as "the plantation." The temporary services downtown pay less than minimum wage and send their worker out to the most dangerous and difficult jobs in the city. From working with heavy machinery to working with heavy metals to cleaning up at the stadium, the temporary services are really the only thing in town for homeless people. The temps have a large population to choose from, and there is no stability. Some days the homeless sit and wait all day to be sent out with no pay.

Our community needs a not-for-profit temporary service to allow homeless people and those hard to place. The homeless would make a better income, and would not be exploited by the downtown temporary services.

Copyright NEOCH and the Homeless Grapevine published 1998 Issue 25