CSH in partnership with Rockefeller Foundation, created the Next Step: Jobs initiative, a multi-site, multi-year initiative that advanced the practice of incorporating employment services into supportive housing. This was the first time we set out to tackle the issue of employment. And in order to so, we started with seeking input from the staff and tenants of supportive housing, to build on and strengthen programs that were already under way in order to develop a program on a national scale and it worked.
It was evident from the start that connecting housing, services and employment were integral in creating stable lives for individuals in supportive housing. Twenty supportive housing groups in New York, Chicago and the San Francisco Bay Area participated in the initiative to increase employment opportunities for their 4,000 tenants and in the first few years more than 1,000 tenants were successfully employed, many within the building in which they lived.
“Having employment opportunities in the building is very important because it gives people a chance to get work experience and build their self esteem," said Michelle, a tenant in San Francisco.
And our efforts didn’t stop there. In conjunction with Wilbur Wright Community college in Chicago, we moved from Next Step: Jobs, to Stepping Up, which sought to create career ladder opportunities in property management for people who had been homeless. It includes a curriculum which is offered at community colleges and employment and job placement support offered by a network of nonprofits. Due to its success, it is now moving to other parts of the country.
CSH has remained committed to connecting employment with supportive housing tenants. Through our more recent MetLife Foundation Allies for Employment Grants we connected the supportive housing industry with private employers, and the mainstream workforce to expand access for tenants. For details and tool kits on connecting employment and supportive housing visit csh.org.