Even in a depressed economy, Portland's extraordinary non-profits continue to help some of our most vulnerable find jobs.
A recent Portland State University study of Central City Concern's Supported Employment program found that between 2007 and 2009, 71% of enrollees - all of whom were homeless and battling addictions when they began the program - found employment.
“The Supported Employment program achieved stunning success with a group of more than 200 people who many would regard as unemployable,” said Central City Concern (CCC) Executive Director Ed Blackburn.
One program participant, Hakeem, spent several years on the streets of Portland before seeking help from CCC's Hooper Detox Center and CCC Recovery Center. Encouraged by the stable housing and support network CCC offered, Hakeem sought the assistance of the Supported Employment program.
Hakeem has been working in the Courtyard by Marriott/The Original restaurant for nearly a year. He recently moved out of CCC housing into his own apartment, has reconnected with his children and is considering a number of educational opportunities for further his skills. Reflecting on the value of the CCC Supported Employment program Hakeem said, “I spend my time wisely now. I like my job and have peace within me.”
The study also reports that the average wage of program graduates is 14% more than Oregon's minimum wage and that almost 80% were still employed after the program ended. Read more from the study here.
Pictured above: Hakeem with supervisor Minoosh Zarrineh