Department of Workforce Services: Businesses need to step up to help end homelessness

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) Phase 3 of Operation Rio Grande is now underway to clean up Salt Lake’s homeless problem. It focuses on getting homeless people off the streets and into the workplace. The program is asking local businesses to get involved and help provide jobs. Christina Davis, Public Information Officer with the Utah Department of Workforce Services, and Ben Kolendar, Deputy Director with the SLC Department of Economic Development, joined Brian Carlson to explain how it all works.

They say the idea behind the program, “Dignity of Work,” is that when you give a person struggling with homelessness a job, you give them back their dignity. As business owners and entrepreneurs, Kolendar says we know the satisfaction and confidence that comes through hard work.

They want to help these people find that dignity and accomplishment. But it can’t happen overnight. It’s a process of getting back into the work flow, showing up on time, being accountable, and supporting yourself. It’s also in the power of positivity. The goal is to help them believe in themselves again.

Business owners are often concerned about reliability when hiring new employees. They say the success of this program is focused on “one person at a time.” Some individuals who may not be able to transition to successful employment due to mental illness, physical limitations, or drug abuse problems. While recognizing different levels of need, the program has solutions tailored to the individual.

For those who have overcome severe challenges, the Utah Department of Workforce Services has developed the “DREAM Team” program. “DREAM” means: Dignity Restored Through Employment and Mentoring. The team is comprised of the potential employee, a mentor from an organization, and two specialists from the Workforce Services. The first is a Workforce Development Specialist who is assigned to work directly with employers, and the second is a Dignity of Work employment counselor who will work with the potential employee, one-on-one. The Team is focused on getting these people valuable skills, but more importantly, confidence.

Over 50 job postings have been listed, and many businesses are working with the “DREAM Team.” But they need more businesses to step forward and help. Employer inquiries regarding “DREAM Team” participation can be directed to Workforce Development Specialist Vicki Giesler, at vgiesler@utah.gov or 801-503-7296.

Learn more about the program at www.SLCEconDev.com.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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