People who are chronically homeless need housing. But what about jobs? In LA, Cedric is working to get people back to work. HRC's Laura Gillis talks with him about how he assists people who are homeless to get housing and employment.
People who are chronically homeless need housing. But what about jobs? In Los Angeles, Cedrick Mitchell is working to get people back to work. More than 31,000 people with disabilities or vocational disadvantages benefit from Goodwill Southern California’s education, job training and placement programs annually. Cedric Mitchell assists people who are homeless to obtain housing and get employment.
Q: What do you do at Goodwill?
A: I am a liaison for the clients we serve who are disabled due to mental health and substance use disorders. I work as a case manager in our LA Homeless Opportunity Providing Employment (HOPE) program. We offer housing assistance and employment. The clients are chronically homeless, meaning they have been homeless for several years and have a disability. Initially, we just offered employment and housing, and later on we added mental health services. We contracted with a mental health agency because our consumers really needed the services.
Q: How do you find jobs for your clients?
A: We start by connecting the consumer to one of the Worksource/One Stop Centers in Los Angeles (www.worksourcecalifornia.com). They have case managers who assist the consumer in finding out about possible employment. Most consumers look for jobs themselves and then they will tell us about what they have found. I work with the Worksource case manager to make sure the consumer has everything they need to start work. For instance, people need clothes for the job interview. Once the consumer starts a new job, I will talk to the employer so they know what accommodations a consumer may need to be successful in the job. For example, some clients need frequent breaks so that they can take their medications. The consumers I work with want a regular job like anyone else. My job is to help them get employment and maintain it.
Q: How do you get housing for the clients?
A: Through the LA HOPE program, we have a contract with the local housing authority for Shelter Plus Care vouchers for our clients. As a criterion for housing, the client has to work with us to obtain mental health and employment services.
Q: How did you get into this line of work?
A: I was a client of the LA HOPE program. I was homeless myself with major depression and I was doing drugs. I entered the program in 2004 and got housing right away. I went to school for computer networking and LA HOPE asked me if I wanted to run a computer room at one of the Mental Health centers. I did that for six months and then they asked me if I wanted to work as the assistant manager of a homeless shelter. I was there one week when the manager left and I became the shelter manager. Now I am a case manager in the LA Hope program and I run a workforce facility at a homeless shelter in the evenings. I know what the clients are going through and they know I have been where they are now. My advice to any consumer going through a similar process is to give whatever program you are in a try. I was resistant at first but when my daughter was born in 2004, I knew I had to do something different. Luckily, the LA HOPE program was here.