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Training, Aid for L.A. Homeless Intensified

TIMES STAFF WRITER

In the largest effort of its kind in Los Angeles, city officials and anti-poverty agencies have unveiled a $500,000 pilot program to provide intensive job training and help in finding housing to 300 homeless people each year, with the goal of “getting them off the streets for good.”

The Job Training for the Homeless Project, to be directed by the Watts Labor Community Action Committee, will place homeless people in training jobs at private companies, where they will be paid $6 to $7 an hour under the existing federal Job Training Partnership Act program.

But an important twist sets the pilot project apart from the federal job program: According to city officials, qualified social workers will be hired to personally usher each man and woman through the often bewildering and daunting effort to keep a job and escape homelessness.

Vallee Bunting, an aide to Mayor Tom Bradley, said, “The question we will be asking each person is, what do you need? We need to be getting them off the streets for good.”

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Until now, only a handful of small programs have offered job training for the homeless, Bunting said, and those scattered efforts probably train fewer than 200 people per year.

Louise Manuel, a senior planner for the Watts agency, said that in Los Angeles today, “there are all these shelters providing 30 to 60 days of emergency housing, and clients are simply bouncing from shelter to shelter. We are going to connect these people up with rental assistance, find them housing, provide the transportation to their jobs, and get them child care.”

The pilot program relies heavily on a $317,000 federal grant awarded to the city by the Department of Labor after a nationwide competition among cities. The City Council also has provided $30,000 from its general fund. The rest of the money comes from existing federal rent subsidy programs and rental assistance from Beyond Shelter, a private group.

Project backers say the initial $500,000 should last about a year and they hope to receive additional funding to continue the program.

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Headquartered in Watts, the program will serve the South-Central area but will take client referrals from shelters citywide.

Clarence Trigg, project director, said the homeless, who often have skills that are no longer needed in the job market, will be trained for everything from warehouse work to computer-related jobs.


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