PHILADELPHIA, PA — City Council leaders and the Kenney administration joined with non-profit organizations and the business community to announce a significant public-private investment in a jobs program that provides participants with income, skills training and access to support services to help them obtain long-term employment and a path toward economic stability.
With unemployment on the rise in Philadelphia, and the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to have a disproportionate impact on low-income and minority communities, City Council allocated funding in the FY21 Budget in June to support proven anti-poverty initiatives. The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society‘s (PHS) LandCare and Roots to Reentry programs are two such initiatives.
The LandCare program hires local residents and small businesses to perform landscaping work in over 12,000 vacant lots throughout the city. The Roots to Reentry program hires returning citizens and other individuals facing barriers to employment and trains them to obtain long-term employment in landscaping.
Working with the Kenney administration, PHS, other community-based organizations and the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia, City Council President Darrell L. Clarke (5th District) says the Same Day Work and Pay initiative is the kind of anti-poverty effort the city needs.
“Our same-day work and pay initiative makes perfect sense,” Clarke said at a news conference today in front of a trash-filled lot in North Philadelphia – the kind of location to be cleaned up by program workers citywide. “This is part of our war on poverty in Philadelphia. We’re working with individuals, providing them with job opportunities, adding social services, and working to lift them up out of poverty. It’s a win-win.”
PHS will serve as a supervising entity managing the initiative, as it implements a “Same Day Work and Pay” program modeled after its other existing programs.
This 2020-2021 pilot will pay individuals $15 an hour to clear vacant lots, clean street corridors and perform basic maintenance tasks throughout the city. In addition to daily pay, workers in the program will receive tools and supplies, including PPE. Workers will also be connected with social service workers who will provide assistance in obtaining housing, behavioral health and other supports often overlooked in other job training programs.
“PHS’s Same Day Pay program benefits our neighbors whose livelihoods have been affected by COVID-19, who may be under- or unemployed, or who have had to deal with other circumstances that interrupted their ability to make a living,” said Keith Green, PHS Director of LandCare. “By working with our community organization partners, up to ten people per organization per day can be part of a lottery to work for the day, get paid the same day they do work, and immediately enjoy the greener, cleaner, healthier environment they have created for themselves.”
Green added that PHS expects participants will benefit from the program’s efforts to connect them with organizations that provide wrap-around support services – important assistance “to improve their living situation beyond a paycheck.” The goal of the program is to expose up to 500 individuals to these opportunities by year’s end.
Council President Clarke and PHS President Matt Rader were joined at today’s news conference by Councilmembers Katherine Gilmore Richardson (At Large), Cherelle Parker (9th District), Jamie Gauthier (3rd District) and Maria D. Quiñones Sánchez (7th District), a show of support illustrating the citywide intention of the jobs program.
The Kenney administration is working closely with City Council and PHS to expand this program, and Acting Managing Director Tumar Alexander explained why.
“This program is a big win for the community,” Alexander said. “Program participants reengage with work, are connected with services, and improve the quality of life in their neighborhood by removing litter. This builds on important lessons learned through the Mural Arts and CLIP Same Day Pay programs, which continues to operate in Center City and Kensington. Like those programs, Same Day Work and Pay can serve as an on-ramp to economic stability and long-term employment for those who urgently need it.”
The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia strongly supports Same Day Work and Pay, and is working with its membership to identify companies willing to hire individuals who complete the job training offered by the program.
“Our Chamber members are proud to be able to play a key role in this life-changing program,” said Susan Jacobson, a communications executive and chair-elect of the Chamber. “This initiative aligns with the Chamber’s Recharge and Recovery commitment to partner in creating immediate economic opportunities that stabilize, energize and strengthen our region.”
William Carter IV, the Chamber’s Vice President of Local Government Affairs, said the business group has been “intentionally promoting inclusive growth throughout the city. We believe the public and private sectors working together on programs and policies that increase the number of residents working in good paying jobs is key to our city’s future.”
Another non-profit organization that works in the same-day pay field is One Day at a Time, Inc. (ODAAT), which serves low-income homeless men and women and their families afflicted by addiction and HIV/AIDS. Mel Wells, ODAAT’s President and Chief Executive Officer, was at today’s event, accompanied by individuals already helped by the program.
“This is so much more than just pay-for-a-day,” Wells said. “This program will give individuals a purpose, help them become part of a family, and provide them with the peer support they need to become a productive member of society again. This is not just a job, it’s a life purpose we’re offering.”
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More photos to come.