HomeAid San Diego, a nonprofit organization working to provide services to mitigate the housing crisis in San Diego County, brought together local, regional and national leaders in the nonprofit and construction industries to celebrate the success of its WORKS (Workforce Opportunities for Rebuilding through Knowledge and Skills) Program at an event on March 13.
The 45-hour WORKS program is an immersive construction training initiative that empowers youth, men, women and veterans experiencing, at risk of or exiting homelessness by providing participants the technical construction skills and job placement support needed to secure meaningful employment.
Cohosted by Mutual of America Financial Group the event, held at the University of California, San Diego’s Park & Market Education Center, highlighted just how the WORKS program is addressing the region’s high homelessness rates while solving the home building industry’s critical labor shortage.
In 2022, HomeAid San Diego hosted three WORKS cohorts with 28 graduates, 14 of whom were soon hired into full-time construction jobs with benefits. Since its national launch in 2019, the WORKS program has effectively helped remove barriers to employment and graduated participants.
“The WORKS program is directly helping HomeAid San Diego achieve our mission of helping those experiencing, or at-risk of, homelessness build new lives,” Staci Reidinger, past president of HomeAid San Diego’s Board of Directors, told the gathering of more than 70 attendees. “Without the support of people in the building industry at every level, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do.”
HomeAid partners with local nonprofits, social service providers and leaders across the construction industry to provide job-specific training that prepares participants for careers in San Diego’s building sector. The program has unique partnerships with industry leaders including Lennar Corporation, MSI Surfaces, West Coast Lumber, Alta Drywall, Workforce Connect, Building Talent Foundation and others, that have designated job opportunities for WORKS graduates to apply for upon their successful completion of the intensive program.
“In the summer of 2022, when the San Diego Regional Task Force on Homelessness released the results of its annual WeAllCount Point-in-Time Count, there were 8,427 individuals experiencing homelessness across San Diego County,” highlighted Alan Willingham, WORKS program chair and senior vice president of operations for Lennar, the nation-leading homebuilder whose charitable arm, Lennar Foundation, is a program leader and funding partner. Such partnerships, as well as ties to construction educational programs, training facilities, social service organizations, high schools and faith-based entities, help increase the likelihood that WORKS program participants rebuild their lives and avoid homelessness.
“The WORKS program works,” shared Dharmesh Balsara, branch leader for program sponsor, MSI Surfaces, a leading supplier of flooring, countertops and hardscaping products. “We were brought the perfect candidate for the job we were looking for.”
That ideal candidate was 2022 WORKS-graduate Destiny Dubois, who shared how the program inspired her to reach for more and provided her the skills needed to successfully enter the construction industry.
“It’s important to show up, not only for others, but for yourself,” Dubois told the crowd.
In addition to education, technical training and job placement services, HomeAid’s WORKS program provides career exploration, financial literacy, workplace communication, resume support and job-application assistance to help its graduates secure jobs offering full-time income, benefits and long-term stability.
The WORKS program is sponsored by entities including the Lennar Foundation, Lucky Duck Foundation, Conrad Prebys Foundation, Bank of America, Brookfield Properties, Avalon Bay, County of San Diego, US Bank and Circle M Construction.
To learn more about HomeAid San Diego’s WORKS Program, including how to apply as a student, offer job opportunities or become a sponsor, please reach out to Mary Lydon at [email protected].
About HomeAid San Diego
HomeAid San Diego is a local affiliate of HomeAid America, which includes 19 affiliates across the United States that attack the reality of homelessness with a unique and collaborative approach. Through affordable housing development, community engagement, advocacy and workforce development, HomeAid improves and expands housing and resources for those experiencing or at risk of homelessness in the San Diego region.
By bringing together homeless service providers, local builders and trades, national and local resources, and community leaders, HomeAid builds and renovates shelters and transitional housing with deep discounts provided by their local and national vendor network. Through partnerships, the organization reduces the time service providers spend on managing a project and the costs associated with construction, allowing these entities to stay focused on their work of mitigating homelessness in San Diego County.
For more information, visit www.homeaidsd.org.