CHA’s Dearborn Homes receives $2.8 million grant that supports work readiness

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JobsPlus program connects public housing residents with employment, education and financial empowerment services

CHICAGO – RealEstateRama – The Chicago Housing Authority has received a $2.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Friday for the JobsPlus program that supports job readiness and connect public housing residents at Dearborn Homes with employment, education and financial empowerment services.

CHA is one of nine Public Housing Authorities (PHA’s) that received a total of $20 million in JobsPlus grants from HUD to help public housing families increase their earned income and become self-sufficient. HUD’s investment will leverage an additional $4,355,700 working alongside key partners such as the City Colleges of Chicago, Chicago Department of Family & Support Services, Chicago Park District, Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership, Centers for New Horizons, FamilyWorks and East Lake Management.

“We’d like to thank HUD for this grant that will help residents increase their prospects for jobs and increased incomes as they work to achieve economic independence,” said CHA Acting CEO James L. Bebley. “The JobsPlus program is a proven workforce model that improves employment opportunities and, ultimately, the trajectory of residents’ lives. A similar grant at Altgeld Gardens was successful, and we are very much looking forward to similar results at Dearborn Homes.”

HUD Secretary Ben Carson said: “HUD is committed to empowering public housing residents with new educational and economic tools to improve self-sufficiency. HUD is proud to work with our local partners to help more residents find employment so that they can reach their full potential and become role models to future generations.”

Altgeld Gardens was awarded a $3 million grant in 2015 and that program closed out in September. More than 500 Altgeld residents were placed in jobs as a result of this grant. And 59 percent of the work-able residents there got jobs – an 11 percent increase over four years.

“This program has opened up so many doors for me and my family,” said Sirmon Neal, who participated in the program at Altgeld. “I was able to complete a training with one of the partners and gained certificates in food sanitation, retail, customer service, and hospitality. I was then offered a paid internship. This allowed me to not just have a job, but propelled my career forward. The sky has been the limit and I was able to advance my career into a full-time position that I love. I am so grateful for the opportunity to participate in Jobs Plus!”

This time, the program will be at Dearborn Homes, which has 1,622 residents of which 574 are work-able adults. The program will provide a comprehensive menu of available employment and workforce development resources onsite, including job readiness training, workforce preparation workshops, networking events, job clubs, education and literacy services, computer/technology resources, business and employer partners, transitional jobs and employment placement services programs.

Karin Norington-Reaves, CEO of the Chicago Workforce Partnership, which was also a partner at Altgeld, said: “We will continue to be a solid partner with Center for New Horizons and we will be here to support this work. Most importantly, we will make certain we bring these employers to the table and hold them accountable to recognize that we have value, that our residents have talent and that we are given every opportunity to succeed.”

Christa Hamilton, CEO for Centers for New Horizons, said: “As a longtime partner, we understand how valuable this program is to this community. This is what moves people forward to sustainable jobs.”

Additionally, the program will utilize a JobsPlus assessment tool to provide a strength-based, trauma-informed approach to service.

The JobsPlus program expands on a successful HUD demonstration program model that combines traditional employment, training, and job placement services with a rent incentive and a place-based investment in building community support for work.

The program requires PHAs to partner locally with Department of Labor Workforce Development Boards and American Jobs Centers. Additionally, JobsPlus grantees are required to demonstrate a 25 percent match from community partners, providing wrap-around supportive services to improve employment and earnings outcomes.

Cross-agency partnerships are essential to changing the economic prospects of public housing residents. Jobs Plus’ place -based model helps residents support each other through the process, cultivating culture of work and enhancing economic resiliency.

Other housing authorities to receive the grant were: Los Angeles County Development Authority; Housing Authority of the City of Fort Myers (FL); Jacksonville (FL) Housing Authority; Lowell (MA) Housing Authority; Housing Authority of the City of Durham (NC); Housing Authority of the City of Elizabeth (NJ); Akron (OH) Metropolitan Housing Authority and Portsmouth (VA) Redevelopment and Housing Authority.

Photo caption: (left to right): CHA Commissioner Francine Washington, Dearborn LAC Vice President Etta Davis, HUD Regional Administrator Joseph P. Galvan, CEO for Centers for New Horizons Christa Hamilton, JobsPlus participant Sirmon Neal, CHA Acting CEO James L. Bebley, CEO of Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership Karin Norington Reaves and CHA Commissioner Debra Parker


Press contacts:
Office of Communications – Chicago Housing Authority
Molly Sullivan: (312) 786-3344; Matthew Aguilar: (312) 935-2646;

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