Program helps connect homeless with local job opportunities

Local News

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Over the past few months, businesses have had a difficult time filling open positions. Now, the Courtyard Homeless Resource Center is implementing new strategies to pair their guests with jobs.

About a month ago, “Chicanos por la Causa,” which oversees the Courtyard’s operations, integrated its workforce development program. They say there are many stereotypes that prevent the homeless from getting jobs, but they are eager to work.

Quentin Mack is a facilities operations coordinator at the Courtyard, but that wasn’t always the case.

“I came from New York, I had $400 to my name,” Mack said. “I got on the Greyhound bus.”

Mack is a Courtyard success story, where a homeless guest is given the opportunity to volunteer, then get a job when a position opens up.

“It’s been great to give back, it’s been great to be a positive influence to the community, and makes me feel better,” Mack said. “Makes me feel like I have value, and I could be a positive citizen.”

While Courtyard is working hard to employ their guests, sometimes those opportunities are few and far between.

Frank Gallardo, who oversees the recently-started workforce development program, says they are hoping to match individuals with the many job openings.

“If an opportunity opens up here, wonderful. But if it doesn’t open up here, we want to be able to work with different employers that they can easily transition into a job opportunity beyond just the Courtyard,” Gallardo said.

They are currently helping 20 people prepare for a job and getting them essential items such as an ID and Social Security card.

“We’re approaching this from different fronts,” Gallardo said. “We have guests who are ready to move to an employment opportunity, but we want to ensure that a lot of those barriers, right, we’re addressing at the same time.”

Gallardo says providing jobs to the homeless can stimulate the economy, with some of their former guests-turned-employees now getting ready to purchase homes.

Mack calls his job a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and will continue to pay it forward.

“Out there, there’s no hope. But in here there’s a lot of hope,” Mack said. “This opportunity, I think everybody deserves it.”

The Courtyard Resource Center is hoping to expand this program. They are looking for employers and organizations to work with.

They say filling these jobs and taking down the barriers that lead to homelessness, is a community effort.

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