Joint Statement from Federal Partners Identifies Opportunities to Advance Employment and Economic Opportunity for Homeless Jobseekers

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Today, the U.S. Department of Housing (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued a joint statement identifying opportunities for the public workforce and homeless service systems to work together to advance employment and economic opportunity for people experiencing homelessness. The statement from the Departments is in response to HUD’s Fiscal Year 2019 Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for the homeless service system (the Continuum of Care Program), which identifies employment as a key strategy for ending homelessness and a top priority for communities.

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At Heartland Alliance, we believe that all people experiencing homelessness who want to work should be able to achieve employment and the income needed for long-term housing stability. Through the work of our National Center on Employment & Homelessness, we’ve advocated for the homeless service system to increase incentives for communities to prioritize connecting people experiencing homelessness to employment, training, and education opportunities.

“Through its stated policy priorities, HUD urges that CoCs and CoC-funded projects prioritize training and employment opportunities for people experiencing homelessness.

This is a strong and welcomed signal from HUD that they are seeking to fund community-wide commitments to promote income and employment as a part of preventing and ending homelessness.

No single public system can support pathways to employment and income for homeless jobseekers alone. Today’s joint statement by HUD and DOL reflects important and necessary federal cross-agency collaboration which can be a model for local communities nationwide.”

Melissa Young, Director, National Initiatives

That’s why we were excited to see that this year, HUD added a new employment-related policy priority to the 2019 Continuum of Care Program NOFA. HUD will award points to communities whose funding applications demonstrate strategies to increase access to employment, training, education, and earned income for people experiencing homelessness. We also applaud HUD and DOL for working together to share ideas for how communities can partner across systems to do this work effectively.

Some of the ideas that HUD and DOL put forward include:

  • Developing partnerships with state or local workforce development boards to promote employment opportunities or co-enrollment in workforce and homelessness assistance programs;
  • Strengthening partnerships with local education or training organizations to promote education and training opportunities for people experiencing homelessness; and
  • Encouraging local workforce development systems to identify and prioritize funding for evidence-based employment, training, and education services for people experiencing homelessness.

We know that a focus on increasing access to employment and economic opportunity for people experiencing homelessness may be a new undertaking for many communities. In addition to reviewing the joint statement from HUD and DOL, we also encourage stakeholders to explore our Working to End Homelessness Toolkit. The Toolkit is full of resources that highlight best and promising practices in employment programming for homeless jobseekers as well as collaborative, systems-level strategies for advancing access to employment, training, and education for this population.

Our Field Building team is also available to work with communities that are seeking to build out pathways to employment and housing stability for people experiencing homelessness.

About National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity

Heartland Alliance’s National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity is dedicated to ending chronic unemployment and poverty. We believe that every person deserves the opportunity to succeed in work and support themselves and their families. Through our field building, we provide support and guidance that fosters more effective and sustainable employment efforts. Our policy and advocacy work advances solutions to the systemic issues that drive chronic unemployment.

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