Home Forward Residents to Benefit from $5.5 Million Federal Grant Awarded to Worksytems, Inc.

Worksystems, Inc., in collaboration with Home Forward and other Portland area housing authorities and workforce agencies, has been awarded a $5.5 milion federal grant to help housing authority residents gain the life and employment skills they need for self-sufficiency.

The work will expand a successful 2010 collaboration between Home Forward and Worksystems, Inc. that provided a host of workforce development services and training to help Home Forward residents move into living wage jobs.

With the Department of Labor grant, this promising approach will be extended to 270 Home Forward public housing residents and Section 8 program participants over the next three years.  In total, the collaboration will assist 480 residents of four housing authorities across the Portland metro area.  As they work together, the partners, which include three workforce agencies in addition to the housing authorities, will seek to develop a sustainable model that can be extended beyond Portland.

The original collaboration between Home Forward and WorkSystems, Inc. began in 2010 with funding from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation.  The pilot program provided tiered services that included workforce orientation, skills training, and job placement support, and a team or "cohort" approach that encouraged groups of participants to help each other.  Training prepared participants for office or heath care employment.

Participants with employment as of January 2012 saw dramatic increases in household income, with stronger gains for those in the two cohorts.  Average annual income jumped from $13,878 at the start of the program to $36,604 for the health care cohort, and grew from $12,377 to $30,248 for the office cohort.  Average annual income increased from $15,725 to $27,183 for participants who pursued health care employment and did not participate in the team approach.

Both the tiered services and the cohort approach will be replicated in the expanded program.

Read the news release from Worksystems, Inc.

Updated July 23, 2012