Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro announced Thursday that Charlotte will receive a $2.2 million grant to help public housing residents at Southside Homes find full-time jobs.
The grant will support Charlotte’s new participation in the federal government’s Jobs-Plus Program, which is designed to ensure public housing residents have skills and access to jobs.
“The goal is to saturate the community with practical resources (for) jobs that are out there,” Castro said Thursday at Southside Homes off South Tryon Street, which has about 800 residents.
Castro said one part of the program is to keep rents stable for people who have transitioned to full-time work. In many instances, people are required to pay more in rent depending on how much they earn.
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Under the Jobs-Plus program, residents can save more of their money, Castro said.
Castro, former three-term mayor of San Antonio, became HUD secretary last summer. He was the keynote speaker at the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.
He attended the news conference along with local officials, including U.S. Rep. Alma Adams and Charlotte Mayor Dan Clodfelter.
Eight other housing authorities received similar grants, totaling $24 million.
The Charlotte Housing Authority will coordinate the grant funding, with assistance from groups such as Charlotte Works, Mecklenburg County’s Department of Social Services and Goodwill Industries.
Steve Partridge of Charlotte Works said the goal of the program isn’t just to find people jobs but to set them “on a career path.”
He said Charlotte Works will help residents with resume writing and interview skills. His group will also help people find a job in high-growth fields.
“There is a challenge between what people want to do long term and what they need immediately,” he said. “A lot of people may not realize what the high-growth sectors are unless they hear about it from a friend.”
He said an example is getting people into Central Piedmont Community College’s Mechatronics program, which combines electrical and mechanical engineering. He said it prepares people for a high-demand field, and local companies such as Siemens have hired people who have gone through the program.
Clodfelter said the city has one of the nation’s most vibrant economies, but it “means nothing unless all can share.”
One study found that Charlotte ranks last among large U.S. metro areas in terms of economic mobility.
CHA President A. Fulton Meachem said the job program is important because it can help move people out of public housing. He said the nation can’t simply “build our way out” of a need to build low-income housing for people in need.
In addition to the grant announcement, Castro visited with eight Central Piedmont Community College students to hear about their experiences.
The students selected are part of the college’s Man Up mentoring program for minority students.
“I didn’t grow up with a father,” said CPCC student Dalvin Carter. “Being in the mentoring program gave me excellent support. If I need to talk to someone, whether it’s about school or personal, I can do that.”
Another student, Kenny Emberton, said a CPCC Service Learning Center that matches students with employers allows him to work while attending school. He is a part-time guitar teacher at a middle school.
“I never would have been engaged in different parts of life,” Emberton said.
Castro also attended the opening of a new senior living community near the Catawba River in northwest Mecklenburg, called The Dannelly at the Catawba. The property is part of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing Partnership, a private nonprofit focused on affordable housing.