Federal grant to fund job training

A $69,000 grant recently secured by U.S. Congressman Jim Himes (D-4th) aims to give local public housing residents a boost by providing access to education, job training and employment.

Mr. Himes, a Cos Cob resident, announced that $138,000 in federal funding, which was awarded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, will be split between the housing authorities of Greenwich and Norwalk to help connect families with the resources they need.

“Oftentimes, families in supportive housing require more than just a roof over their heads — they need the education and job training that will help them become self-sufficient and enable them to provide for their families,” Mr. Himes said in a press release. “I am very pleased that Greenwich and Norwalk will be receiving this funding to help families in need find jobs, and I look forward to working with the respective housing authorities as they move forward on implementing this funding.”

In an interview with the Post, Greenwich Housing Authority Executive Director Anthony Johnson said the $69,000 grant will be contracted to Family Centers, a private nonprofit human services organization serving children and adults in the area. Although the Housing Authority could dole out the money itself, social service organizations are better equipped to handle this type of funding because it is within their area of expertise, he said.

Family Centers already has a network of job training and job search assistance programs in place that part of the funding will be used for, Mr. Johnson said. In addition, the organization runs a family self-sufficiency program that the grant will help fund. The way it works, Mr. Johnson said, is that families who are accepted into the program are given a set monthly rent fee. If the rent is raised, however, the difference between the original rent and the new amount is given to the family to be put toward obtaining other important resources, so it becomes a savings program, he said. The savings allow families to further education, buy a better car to commute to and from work or send children to college, for example.

Although the Housing Authority has received this type of grant on an annual basis in recent years, there was plenty of concern about whether the money would be provided this year because of the government sequester, Mr. Johnson said. Fortunately, he said, Mr. Himes was able to secure the funding, which has become vital to the community.

The grant is critical, Mr. Johnson said, because it is ultimately used to help residents find gainful employment, which is the key component to rising out of poverty. What’s important to recognize, he said, is that the grant is used to help improve economic stability, rather than to repair someone’s roof, for example, or for other maintenance-related expenses.

In addition to providing for better and more consistent employment, Family Centers uses the funding to counsel recipients as part of its self-sufficiency program, Mr. Johnson said. Families are provided with money management, job networking and emotional guidance to help them cope with their specific needs and circumstances, he said.

Although the Housing Authority will not directly allocate the funding, the organization is extremely grateful to Mr. Himes for securing the money, which is an important community resource, Mr. Johnson said.

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