How To Get A Job If Your Homeless – Summary of “Sick and Tired: Omicron Wins for California Workers” Part 1 6 things to know about omicron workplace hazards Part 2 COVID workplace laws: A guide for California workers Part 3 What is California’s paid sick leave for workers and businesses. ? Part 4 When pandemic protection ends, essential workers face only omicron Part 5 California measures order to cancel specialized surgery as COVID eliminates hospital workers back to work Part 8 Nurses COVID-infected nursing home workers with part-time workers Part 9 Transportation worker shortages are crippling California’s economy Part 10 Omicron fires California child care providers already reeling from COVID Part 11 Will Labor Shortages Hurt California’s Homelessness Policy? Part 12 On the Street: Omicron surge strains California police agencies Part 13 The omicron effect: What happens when city halls and government agencies close their doors? Section 14 Omicron criticized the California workers. Was there another way?
A volunteer barber cuts the hair of a homeless person at Trinity Church in Riverside, which provides a haircut, clothes, food and a shower once a week. Photo by Raquel Natalicchio for
How To Get A Job If Your Homeless
Burnout and COVID are driving California homeless service workers away. Low wages make it difficult to hire new people. But they are essential to the government’s plans to reduce homelessness.
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In mid-March last year, Los Angeles officials were preparing to clear an encampment of 200 homeless people in Echo Park Lake.
For Denise Velazquez, 53, then a relocation worker with the Los Angeles Homeless Services Council, her mission was clear: Get 10 people into housing.
She helped her customers – who were cold, tired and desperate for a shower – pack their bags and sign meal forms. He gave them hope that warmth is just around the corner: Hotel rooms under Project Roomkey, a government program to protect homeless people who are at risk of contracting COVID-19.
But the orders changed immediately. His facility only had three beds, and when he told his clients, they shouted, spat and drowned his partner. Velazquez says he broke their trust – and that broke his heart.
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“My stomach feels sick and my heart is broken,” Velazquez wrote in an email to his manager on March 18, 2021.
Denise Velazquez in front of the lemon tree her grandmother planted in their family garden in Monterey Park. Photo by Raquel Natalicchio for
LAHSA spokesman Ahmad Chapman said various local service providers have placed 176 of the Echo Park campers in temporary housing programs.
In the weeks that followed, Velazquez said his health took a turn for the worse. His blood pressure increased, his diabetes worsened, and his anxiety and depression increased. His employer allowed him to take time off work, but treatment revealed that the only way to recover, he said, was to quit. Abandoning his customers broke his heart again.
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Turnover has long been a concern of the homeless services industry. COVID-19 has exacerbated the problem as omicron operations are causing labor shortages throughout the California economy. And without enough service workers, the government’s ambitious, multimillion-dollar plan to reduce homelessness is unlikely to work.
Most people who enter the public service know how to expect small salaries; they are driven by compassion and a desire for positive change. But caring too much can be overwhelming when housing is tight, mental health services are limited, and communication is fragmented among the many agencies that decide the fate of the homeless.
“We’re paying these people pennies on the dollar to be completely self-reliant,” said Tami McVay, assistant program director at Self-Help Enterprises, which serves disadvantaged communities in the San Joaquin Valley.
Denise Velazquez holds the boots she got when she started working in the homeless service. Photo by Raquel Natalicchio for
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When you bring up personnel changes or job vacancies with any provider or spokesperson, they nod vigorously. Private agencies, many of which are government-contracted to serve the homeless, have fought an uphill battle to recruit and retain workers in their rapidly growing workforce, including people who were homeless. homes.
LA-based People Assisting The Homeless, or PATH, which serves about a fifth of the state’s homeless population, has hired seven people to help fill 340 of its 1,100 job openings, it said. CEO Jennifer Hark Dietz. It now takes an average of four months to fill any given space.
And that’s before the latest homelessness budget, approved last summer by Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Legislature are providing $12 billion over the next two years. The government says the money will require thousands of new positions in the homelessness response system.
“We have all this money,” said Farrah McDaid Ting, senior legislative representative for the California State Association of Counties. “Can we really do this if we don’t have people? I think there can be a real limit.”
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The root of the labor shortage — which advocates say is actually a lack of good jobs — is low wages. Many homeless service organizations have spoken to workers who start paying between $16 and $18 an hour, which is well above minimum wage. They openly admit that it is too small for heavy work, and often not enough to live in the expensive cities of California.
“In the homeless services department, it’s like: You didn’t get these documents in time, I lost my house, or my legs hurt, I think I might have a bruise,” said Mel Tillekeratne, chief executive of Shower. of Hope, which operates 22 shower facilities throughout Los Angeles County. “It’s incredibly high stress. I have seen so many service workers who are completely taken care of. ”
Keith Jones opens the door for a disabled woman who recently used facilities provided by Shower of Hope, a program that provides portable showers to homeless people. Photo by Raquel Natalicchio for
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, people employed in emergency and other humanitarian services — including homeless service providers — made an average salary of $49,616 in 2020.
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Why not pay more? Tillekeratne said government contracts usually cover labor costs. He had to raise money privately, for example, to provide a risk premium at the beginning of the epidemic. Federal and state grants often come in small amounts and are short-term, forcing organizations to fill temporary positions before they expire.
If they don’t leave homeless services entirely, workers will switch jobs for $1 or $2 more an hour. Or,has has been put into practice,If they are promoted, they often lose direct contact with customers, which adds to the sense that the first job is not valued, said Earl Edwards, a graduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles who interviewed 11 case managers.
Many organizations that serve the homeless often hire people who are newly homeless: “That adds another level of stress,” he said.
Fresno housing officials are constantly searching for their “unstable housing arrangements, asking for housing,” said Katie Wilbur, executive director of RH Community Builders.
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Minority workers with master’s degrees in social work often earn higher salaries, but even that is not high enough to keep them out of higher-paying jobs, explains Donna Gallup, assistant professor in Azusa Pacific’s Department of Social Work, who directs the pilot program. recruiting more students into the field of homeless services.
“If you have the opportunity to be a graduate student, you have student debt, you can choose a school, hospital or other non-profit where you don’t have to work with sad people who are very needy and in situations of work, especially with COVID,” Gallup said. It’s been a challenge.
“We have all this money. Can we really do this if we don’t have people? ”Farrah McDaid Ting, senior legislative representative of the California State Association of Counties.
Newsom’s proposed 2022 budget, which still has to be discussed in the Legislature, includes $1.7 billion over three years to expand the state’s workforce and human services “through improved outcomes for wages, salaries and health equity,” said Rodger Butler, a government spokesman. California Institute of Health and Human Services. There is also a bill with bipartisan support to increase mental health workers. But even that may not be enough.
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“Until … funding is sufficient to provide living wages at various levels in the sector, it will be difficult to train a way out of this problem,” said Mari Castaldi, a senior lawyer on homelessness. in Housing California.
Keith Jones, formerly homeless, cleans buildings donated by Shower of Hope, a program that provides mobile showers to homeless people. Photo by Raquel Natalicchio for
To increase wages for low-wage workers, the nonprofit is seeking additional funding — more than $2 billion over two years in last year’s variable spending budget that cities and counties will use paying non-profit partners to run most of these. homeless programs.
“We don’t think it makes sense to say to service providers, ‘You can choose between serving the number of customers you intend to serve, or increasing revenues,'” Castaldi said.
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But pay is only one part of the problem, says Deborah Son, executive director
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