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

Watch Our Webinar – Access to Economic Opportunity Helps End Homelessness: New Opportunities in the 2019 CoC Program NOFA

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.

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The Long-Term Unemployment Elimination Act: Creating Access to Employment, Equity & Opportunity

factory-factory-worker-girl-1108101At Heartland Alliance, we believe every person deserves the opportunity to succeed in work and support themselves and their families. For over two decades we’ve worked at the intersection of practice, policy, and research to advance solutions that ensure that everyone who wants to work has access to employment opportunities.

We know that the labor market excludes many people who want to work and who can and do work when offered employment opportunities and support. Even when the economy is healthy, millions of individuals struggle to get and keep work due to structural barriers that prevent access to employment and economic opportunity. This is why we’re pleased to see the introduction of the Long-Term Unemployment Elimination Act of 2019 by Senators Van Hollen (D-MD) and Wyden (D-OR).

This legislation would establish a national subsidized employment program for the long-term unemployed with a priority on high-poverty, high unemployment communities.

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Employers: Gatekeepers to Opportunity, Employment & Successful Reentry

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Melissa Young, Quintin Williams, Lisa Hampton (Leaders Up), Miguel Cambray and Chris Warland at the Business Executives Association meeting in Chicago, IL.

By Melissa Young, Director of Heartland Alliance’s National Initiatives on Poverty and Economic Opportunity and Quintin Williams, Field Building Manager for Heartland Alliance’s National Initiatives on Poverty and Economic Opportunity

At Heartland Alliance, we see the unjust impacts that the overreach of the criminal justice system has in the lives of those we serve and millions of others across the country every day. In Illinois, nearly 5 million adults (nearly 50%) have an arrest or conviction record, which create substantial barriers to work, housing, and well-being.

The federal, state, and local laws restricting rights and opportunities for people with a criminal record create a tightly woven web of barriers. These “collateral consequences” of having a criminal record can affect nearly every aspect of a person’s life – often indefinitely. All told, there are over 48,000 collateral consequences etched in statute or regulation for people who have a criminal record across the United States.[i] In Illinois, there are nearly 1,500 constraints on rights, entitlements, and opportunities on the books for individuals with a criminal record, many of which deny or restrict access to employment opportunities.[ii]

These impacts show up during the search for housing, when many are denied a roof over their heads due to their records. It shows up in education, where many post-secondary schools outright deny access to enrollment for persons with a criminal record or individuals are discouraged from applying because they see a big, bold box asking about their criminal background. And it shows up, consistently, in access to employment. Individuals are denied occupational licenses, barred from entire occupations or fields of practice, and often can’t even get in the door for a job interview as a result of being justice involved.

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Thank You for a Year of Big Change!

2018 was a big year. It was a year of unprecedented threats, unbelievable movement building and unwavering support from you, our community of dedicated advocates, friends, partners, and funders. Every report that was written, harmful legislation that was blocked and policy solution that was supported helped us get one step closer to creating a more equitable society for all. We had the opportunity to move the needle on the issues we care about most at Heartland Alliance—Housing, Health Care, Jobs, Justice, Economic Opportunity, and Safety. And we could not have done it without you.

Here is just some of the big impact you helped create with us in 2018:

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Meet Our New Team Members!

By Amber Crossen, Communications Coordinator, National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity

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We’ve got lots of new faces around the office this summer, and we’re excited for you to get to know our new staff. While Quintin and Carrie, our Workforce Research & Policy Fellow and Graduate Student Intern, respectively, will be with us all year, Elizabeth, Damian, and Caroline will round out our team for the summer. Read on to learn all about what the National Initiatives (NI) staff is looking forward to learning and working on in the coming months.

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