Based in three cities, the comprehensive two-year project assists residents
in six public housing authorities. To date, approximately 1,400 residents
have been targeted to receive services. More than 470 have already received
individual counseling on personal needs and life skills, and 73 have been
placed in jobs.
The nonprofit Sister Isolina Ferre centers
(SIFC) obtained a grant from HUDs Emergency Economic Development and
Supportive Services program to launch the project. Partnerships with the
Puerto Rico Public Housing Authority, private housing management firms,
the Pontifical Catholic University of Ponce, the three municipal governments
and private businesses provide financial and programmatic support for the
project, as well as job training and employment opportunities for the residents.
To encourage resident participation in the
project and overcome initial employment barriers such as lack of child
care, transportation or background checks, the project held education, health
and employment fairs in the targeted communities. Public agencies brought
computers to the fairs to allow residents to obtain documentation required
for job applications, such as health certificates, following on-site physical
examinations and good conduct certificates by police department staff who
conducted security checks. Clowns entertained children while parents completed
Project staff employed two strategies in response
to a shortage of local job opportunities. The first entailed identifying
residents musical, artistic and other talents to serve as a basis
for resident-owned business. The second approach involved working with
a partner to establish bakeries on the housing sites to serve as job
training and employment locations.
The public housing authorities, resident councils
and community leaders were involved at all stages from the initial needs
assessment to implementation. As project leader, SIFC identified initial
funding and began to build partnerships. SIFC then developed an organizational
structure with two co-leaders sharing programmatic and administrative oversight.
Coordinators supervise on-site staff teams of family advocates and outreachers,
many of whom are residents in the targeted communities.
A survey of residents was conducted using
a numerical screening system to identify those with high potential for obtaining
and retaining employment. Selected participants developed individual plans
for accessing services in interpersonal skill development, improvement of
academic level, development of occupational skills and potential for self-employment.
Participants receive assistance with developing skills for employment at
banks, fast food restaurants and other industries in which identified partners
provide job training and potential employment. The program includes materials
in Spanish and English.
Contact: Allan Cintron, Phone: (787) 844-7720
Tracking Number: 2040
Winning Category: Geographic