Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Coalition asks City Council for $10 million for subsidized jobs program

Posted By on Tue, May 13, 2014 at 10:38 AM

While unemployment continues to steadily fall in parts of Charlotte, it remains stubbornly high in others. At about 18 percent, the Beatties Ford community's unemployment rate, for example, is more than twice the city's. The Charlotte Job Coalition hopes a boost from City Council will change that.

Coalition members wore white.

Comprised of about 20 religious and secular jobs-related organizations, the coalition made a showing at Monday's Council meeting to ask members to, in budget discussions, consider granting $10 million for a job program that would offer about 1,000 chronically unemployed and formerly incarcerated individuals the chance to work at local small businesses for $10 an hour. After six months of subsidized pay, the hope is that 50 percent of individuals will stay on as permanent employees.

"People want to work," said the Rev. Rodney Sadler of Mount Carmel Baptist Church. "No one wants to be homeless."

Coalition members who spoke at Monday's meeting said the initiative has the support of the County Commission and private-sector groups, adding that some funding could come from the private sector. The program would be administered through the Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services.

A familiar face to many City Council members came to support the initiative. Dressed in a vibrant orange blazer, former Councilwoman At-Large Beth Pickering's points energized the crowd. "We spend money on baseball stadiums, football stadiums, multi-million dollar corporations," she said to much applause. "How do we say yes [to them] but not to citizens in dire straights?"

Subsidized jobs aren't new to North Carolina. In 2009, the state used funds from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act to invest in subsidized pay for up to 30 counties. In the first of three phases, 1,881 jobs were created, and of those, 621 jobs became permanent. The second phase included funding from both the public and private sectors.

City Council will discuss the fiscal year's budget in a closed meeting on Wednesday and will vote on it June 9.

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