to obtaining a job as Supervisor at Western
Kentucky Day Care. A recipient of the City of Bowling Greens
Reaching Higher award, she now flies to conventions to tell her story.
In partnership with the Kentucky Cabinet for
Families and Children, the Housing Authority of Bowling Green established
the REACH HIGHER program in 1997 to help public housing and Section 8 residents,
living solely on welfare assistance, transition to self-supporting jobs.
The authority wrote a grant for state funds and was awarded $80,000. By
1999, the program received more than $900,000 in funding from the State
Department for Community Based Services and partners that include the Bowling
Green Chamber of Commerce and Western Kentucky University, among others.
A special community-based service staff is assigned to the housing authority
office to handle interagency and participant issues.
Initial candidates had difficulty surmounting
lack of childcare, local public transportation and deep financial debt.
To overcome these barriers, the housing authority helped women working nontraditional
hours place their children in 24-hour child care, launched car purchase
and leasing programs, and worked with local banks and a credit counseling
agency to consolidate and eradicate debt. A United Way Grant helped fund
the car purchases program that enabled graduates to buy used vehicles for
$600 with a $50 down payment. When residents had difficulty maintaining
these older cars, the authority successfully applied for a $300,000 grant
from the state to develop a car-leasing program. This program funds
one staff member, 26 new cars, and car insurance. Participants lease the cars
for $40 a month while in the program. Graduates can lease the cars for $60
a month for up to one year.
Initial community research revealed low area
unemployment rates with employers scrambling to fill positions in manufacturing,
service occupations and trades. A survey of public housing residents indicated
the need for a job readiness program that would include mathematics, communication
skills, literacy and GED classes. Once residents complete the job readiness
program, the housing authority assesses their skills and places them in
a 32-hour a week job-training program with area nonprofits and at the housing
authority in the cabinet shop, upholstery shop, maintenance department and
the secretarial division.
One day a week, participants attend life-skills
classes taught by faculty from Western Kentucky University and community
business leaders. From completing a job application to resolving conflicts,
managing anger and finding childcare, the classes help participants learn
to negotiate in the work world. Arrangements with the Department for Community
Based Services and rental programs help sustain the residents during the
The housing authority also launched a Woman
in Construction program in 1999 that provides job training and placement
for women in the construction trades. Funded by the Kentucky Department
for Community Based Services and Kentucky Housing Corporation, this six-month
program is accredited for 72.5 hours of apprenticeship training. Graduates
are eligible for continuing apprenticeship programs that allow them to achieve
journeyman status with its high level of skill and salary.
A commitment by state government, ongoing
support services and life skills for participants during job training, and partnerships
with more than 20 national and local agencies have allowed low-income residents
in Bowling Green to set and achieve high employment standards.
Contact: Judy Garratt, Phone: (270) 843-6074
Tracking Number: 1239
Winning Category: Geographic