The Chattanooga Housing Authority and the Partnership for Families, Children and Adults are helping low-income and homeless residents get jobs through the Ready2WorkIt initiative.
A public housing resident and a homeless single mother of two were among four people who got jobs while participating.
"This is a very awesome program, very, very awesome," said 34-year-old Linda King. "They show you how to put resumes online, how to fill out applications online. They send you places to get clothes for an interview."
Ready2WorkIt is a pilot program started by the United Way's Building Stable Lives program, a partnership among the United Way, the Partnership and CHA.
It started this year at the East Lake Courts public housing site. The program was so successful, the housing authority expects to operate it at all of its sites eventually, said Raquel Hidalgo, Building Stable Lives program director.
King, mother of a 9-year-old son and adult daughter, will start work as a caregiver for the elderly with Aid & Assist At Home on Thursday. Her goal is to become a certified nursing assistant.
"I can't stand being without a job," said King. "I'm not one of those women who just live off the government. My mother always said if you want something, get out and work for it."
Anyone 18 or older can participate in Ready2WorkIt. No other qualifications are needed. The program is open to women and men with criminal records, those who are homeless and those who have never worked, said Hidalgo. The first class also included a client with an associate degree.
Up to 20 men and women will be allowed in a class, said CHA's Carol Johnson, director of resident services. And if there is a large number of applicants, people enrolled in the United Way's building stable lives and the housing authority's upward mobility programs will have first preference, said Hidalgo.
The program comes less than a year after census data was released showing that the middle class is shrinking and a record number of Americans, nearly one in two, has low income or is in poverty.
King was among 10 women participating in the Ready2WorkIt first graduation service Friday. About 16 of them signed up for the class; seven graduated, while two received certificates of attendance. King is also among four women in the program who already have found jobs. Only three dropped out.
Because of the women's success, CHA officials want to start a phase II Ready2WorkIt at East Lake Courts in July, Johnson said.
On Wednesday, staffing agencies and some employers are coming to CHA's Central Office to see if the Ready2WorkIt graduates fit their needs.
A smile covered 39-year-old Sonya Gipson's face as she walked on the stage at the East Lake Recreation Center to accept her graduation certificate Friday.
"I was shy at first," she said. "Now I have a job at Volkswagen."
Yolanda Putman has been a reporter at the Times Free Press for 11 years. She covers housing and previously covered education and crime. Yolanda is a Chattanooga native who has a master’s degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Alabama State University. She previously worked at the Lima (Ohio) News. She enjoys running, reading and writing and is the mother of one son, Tyreese. She has also ...
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