HomeAid San Diego’s WORKS program graduates first construction training cohort

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HomeAid San Diego, a nonprofit organization working to provide services to mitigate the housing crisis in San Diego County, says seven students have completed the first cohort of the HomeAid WORKS program. Within a week of graduation, six of the seven students received job offers.  

Partially funded by the Lennar Foundation, this program offers a solution to address the critical labor shortage in the home building industry, the organization says in an April 4 statement.

“The 45-hour WORKS (Workforce Opportunities for Rebuilding through Knowledge and Skills) program provides technical construction training and job placement support for at-risk youth, men, women and veterans who are experiencing homelessness, at risk of homelessness or exiting homelessness,” the statement says.

“This new program directly supports our mission of helping those experiencing or at-risk of homelessness build new lives,” said Mary Lydon, executive director of HomeAid San Diego. “We are committed to remove barriers to employment and provide opportunities for quality, meaningful work at a livable wage.” 

By providing a range of basic construction skills during the WORKS program, students get a chance to consider which field of work might be of interest to them. Students also visit building sites and do hands-on work to see how the classroom lessons come to life in the field. 

In addition to learning new skills, the WORKS program also provides career exploration, resume support and assistance with job applications. The overall goal of the program is to help students secure jobs that will provide them with full-time income, benefits and long-term stability. 

 By partnering with local and national construction educational programs, training facilities, social service organizations, high schools and faith-based entities, the WORKS program increases the likelihood of students permanently exiting homelessness.  All the students in the first cohort came to the WORKS program from Promies2Kids and Just In Time For Foster Youth, two nonprofit organizations working to support foster youth in their well-being and in creating sustainable lives. 

 “We strive to work with community partners that grant our students an opportunity to excel,” said Stephanie Oquendo, clinical services manager at Promises2Kids. “This group of young people now have a skill set, and more importantly, the confidence to apply to jobs in the construction industry that were inaccessible to them previously because of this pilot program.” 

One of the unique aspects of the WORKS program are the job placement partnerships with building industry companies.

Lennar, Circle M Construction, Hy-Lang Electric, Alta Drywall, Royal Cabinets and others have earmarked job opportunities for students to apply for upon successful completion of the course. These companies understand the challenges at-risk individuals face and want to remove those barriers so that students can secure a good, full-time job in the construction industry. 

“We were proud to host and provide the instructors and startup funds for this first cohort,” said Alan Willingham, Lennar’s vice-president of operations in San Diego. “Giving back to those in need is important to Lennar and being so engaged in helping at-risk youth in our community is rewarding. We invite others in the building industry to join us.”  

Other sponsors include the 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 the HomeAid San Diego WORKS Program, how to apply as a student, how to offer job opportunities or how to become a sponsor, please reach out to Mary Lydon at mary.lydon@homeaidsd.org.  

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