Let’s Get to Work Initiative Receives City Support

The Let’s Get to Work Initiative continues to gather momentum and support from a wide spectrum of groups.  The latest to throw their support behind the innovative initiative of job training, living wage support and housing support is the City of Austin via a recent resolution recognizing the innovative initiative and supporting it’s efforts for fundraising through state and federal grants.  You can read the resolution online, or below is the text of the resolution (with some Bold/Italicized areas for emphasis & links to help your research):

RESOLUTION NO. 20100311-034

WHEREAS, homelessness in Austin has captured the attention of a large segment of the greater Austin community; and

WHEREAS, collaborations have been formed to address community homelessness and these collaborations include volunteers, business leaders, service providers, city staff and elected officials; and

WHEREAS, as part of an effort to address homelessness in our community, numerous surveys and studies have been done to investigate root causes as well as potential solutions for homelessness; and

WHEREAS, these surveys and studies have shown overwhelming evidence that a significant segment of the homeless population is looking for work, would accept job training, or are homeless due to unemployment; and

WHEREAS, a significant number of homeless individuals indicated they would work 40 hours a week for a living wage; and

WHEREAS, House the Homeless, Inc., is a non-profit educational and advocacy group and is part of the local community leadership addressing the issue of homelessness in Austin; and

WHEREAS, House the Homeless is part of the Let’s Get to Work collaboration of businesses, churches, non-profits and other agencies in Austin dedicated to creating new pathways for Austin’s homeless population, from existing transitional housing into permanent housing and self sufficiency through community sponsorship that includes ensuring a living wage, provisions for job skills training, education and mentorship; and

WHEREAS, the City Council of the City of Austin recognizes the need for innovative models to address the issue of homelessness; NOW, THEREFORE,


That the City Council hereby recognizes the innovative Let’s Get to Work model that combines job training, living wages and supportive housing as a means to make advances to help end homelessness in Austin; and


That the City Council supports the Let’s Get to Work initiative in its pursuit of both community partnerships and applications for grant funds, including state and federal grant funds.

ADOPTED: March 1 1 2010 ATTEST: _^

Shirley A. Gentry

City Clerk


Let’s Get to Work at the ‘In the City, For the City’ Ministry Expo

ABBA-inthecityforthecityIt’s official, the Let’s Get to Work Initiative will be sharing our program with churches and faith-based organizations on November 15th at the In the City, For the City Ministry Expo.  The ministry expo is sponsored by Austin Bridge Builders Alliance (ABBA) and will be held at the Bob Bullock Museum.  There will be over 100 tables with opportunities for the several thousand who attend to learn about efforts to renew our city.  It’s a great opportunity for us to build awareness of the program and begin talking with potential community sponsors.

Faith-Based Organizations Must Reinforce Our Safety Net

Shannon Moriarty over at Change.org is calling for faith-based organizations to reinforce the social safety net concerning homelessness and shelter.  Here is an excerpt:

“As the negative effects of our economic woes continue to trickle down in the form of lay-offs and evictions, our nation’s homeless prevention and shelter system will continue to shoulder the ever-increasing burdens of meeting rising demand with declining resources. Faith based organizations – with their philanthropic interests, human and financial capital, and ability to mobilize quickly – are needed now more than ever to reinforce our social service safety net.”

Click here to read the full article.

You can also check out the Let’s Get to Work Initiative or learn more about community sponsorships to give hope to someone in need.

Homeless Surveys Show Homeless Want to Work

The myth is that most homeless people don’t want to actually work.  Surveys show that many would like to work if given the opportunity and if they could make enough to be self-sufficient.  Check out the survey results below and then learn how to get involved with the Let’s Get to Work Initiative.

UT School of Social Work shows 52% Looking for Work

In August 2008, the University of Texas School of Social Work presented its preliminary findings on their “Solicitation Report”.  They interviewed about 103 individuals and found that 51 % of those surveyed wanted job training and 52% were looking for work and their over-riding common theme was that they were “soliciting for daily survival.” (Soliciting refers to pan-handling while standing on street corners, sidewalks etc.) (PDF of the Final Report) (City of Austin Report Summary)

Unsheltered Homeless Count Survey: Over 50% are homeless due to unemployment

In the Unsheltered Homeless Count Survey, conducted in Austin in May 2007, over 200 respondents were interviewed. When asked as to the cause of their homelessness, 100 said it was because of being “unable to pay either their rent or mortgage.” Another 118 said it was “due to unemployment.” (PDF of the Full Report, see Appendix E)

House the Homeless Survey November 2007: 90% would work 40 Hours for a Living Wage

This survey was conducted by House the Homeless Inc. in Austin in November 2007. 526 people experiencing homelessness were successfully interviewed.  37.8% said they were working at the time of the interview.  When asked if they would work a 40 hour week job, if they were sure it would pay them enough to afford basic food, clothing, shelter, (in other words a Living Wage), 468 or 90.7% said they would work 40 hours for a living wage. (from www.housethehomeless.org)

House the Homeless Survey January 2009: 57% Homeless Due to Job Loss or Low Income, 74% Would Take Job Training

57% Homeless Due to Job Loss or Too Low of Income

In a subsequent House the Homeless survey conducted January 1st 2009, 429 people experiencing homeless were interviewed. Of those responding, (out of eleven, options), “job loss” ranked 1st at 150 and “insufficient income” ranked 2nd (unduplicated) with 94.  Some might say these two causes could be combined under “insufficient income” for a total of 244 (or over half of those interviewed). (from www.housethehomeless.org)

74% Would Take New Job Training if They Could Make a Living Wage

Also in this survey, we compiled a list of 20 jobs that are being taught at Austin Community College.  We then asked, “If you could earn a living wage (enough to pay for food, clothing, shelter (including utilities) by doing one of these jobs, would you accept training? Their response? Yes -317 and No-38.

We then asked them to rank their top three choices.

  • 112-truck driver
  • l09-landscaping
  • 64-bus driver
  • 61-heating and air conditioning
  • 52 computer tech repair
  • 51 welder
  • 44-solar panel installer
  • 41-small engine mechanic
  • 38-tow truck operator
  • 37 -administrative assistant
  • 36-nurses aid
  • 35-auto body repair
  • 34-small engine electrician
  • 33 -upholstery
  • 30-dental assistant
  • 29-phlebotomy ( draw blood)
  • 25-TV/VCR/DVD repair
  • 18-outboard motor repair
  • 17-wedding planner
  • 15-accounting

The surveys, coupled with the Let’s Get to Work Forum, provide the justification and the framework for the creation of pathways to assist people experiencing homelessness go through job training and end up in Living Wage jobs. The Let’s Get to Work Initiative utilizes and involves city, state, federal , in-kind dollars and participants that include businesses, non-profits, religious organizations, educational and affected persons to improve our community in devising a replicable solution.

Check out The Let’s Get to Work Initiative!

The Let’s Get to Work Initiative is still coordinating a broad coalition of activists, city leaders, non-profit leaders and church leaders to bring new hope and opportunity to those in the homeless population who desire to get out of the overburdened continuum of care cycle.  We are pleased to share part of the vision and opportunity with you and invite you to check out The Initiative’s program summary thus far.