To clean the streets and simultaneously provide jobs to those in need, the City of Tacoma has introduced the Hire Program. The program pays those experiencing homelessness to clean up areas burdened by trash and work as landscapers around Tacoma.
In an effort by Tacoma City Councilmember Robert Thoms, $60,000 was put towards the program. The goal is to spend the money down as fast as possible then petition the city for additional funding to continue the program. Thoms hopes the plan will make it easier to provide income for those in need, paying minimum wage to its workers. The Hire Program started in April and its test run will end in December.
“You have to start putting the building blocks of what makes people successful and maybe it’s a small step, but I think it’s a necessary one. My hope is to broaden it out and better align with some of our educational institutions and job creators,” said Thoms.
The program is currently working with Valeo Vocation, a job placement group that recruits and trains applicants. Valeo recruits workers by visiting homeless shelters and encampments to find applicants, though anyone who has the proper I-9 employment verification can participate. Form I-9 is used to verify identity and employment authorization.
Valeo aims to help homeless individuals search for employment while providing education on finances, professionalism and conflict resolution. According to Valeo, they provide all the necessary life skills to be successful employees.
In response to the Hire Program’s growing attention, owners of the Almond Roca store in Tacoma reached out to Thoms, mentioning that over the next six months they plan to hire around 50 new employees, some of which could be through Tacoma’s new program.
Representatives of The Puyallup Tribe have also reached out to Thoms to support the program financially.
“It’s my hope that they’ll donate some resources towards applicants. They, too, have similar issues of hazardous materials, debris, and public health-related to transient activity around Portland and Puyallup,” said Thoms.
Though the program strives to provide work and clean Tacoma’s streets, Thoms hopes the work being done will inspire those experiencing homelessness to join the program alongside their neighbors.
“Ultimately, my goal is to show people they can be successful by creating resources to strengthen themselves,” said Thoms.
To get assistance from Valeo Vocation visit their website and navigate to “Apply”. From their website, employers can also find short or even long-term employees from Valeo’s programs. Though Valeo does outreach on its own they can be found at 1224 Tacoma Ave S and are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays.
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