Goal: To renovate abandoned houses. Solution: Sweat Equity Program.
This pilot program is a new program instituted under Mayor Gray to get homeless residents into housing. The program allows current homeless or formerly homeless welfare recipients to work their way into a new home. The residents are trained in construction and then apply their new trade on vacant properties to renovate abandoned houses and other buildings. Some of the renovated buildings will serve as housing for homeless people. Through the program workers are able to learn new skills, get a job and eventually transition off of welfare.
This pilot program is part of a larger effort by the Gray administration to reform welfare in D.C., where ward 8 has the highest unemployment rate in the city.
The program is an integrated employment/case-management pilot program for homeless TANF recipients. The program was developed by the Department of Human Services (DHS) in partnership with The Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness and the United Planning Organization. It is operating in conjunction with the DC Department of Real Estate Services (DRES).
“The program we are formally launching today is a true model for how governments can engage residents, agencies and the private sector in attacking some of our most intractable problems in ways that serve the good of the entire community,” said Mayor Gray. “The ‘Sweat Equity’ program is bringing clients out of homelessness and arming them with work and life skills to help ensure that they don’t fall back through the holes in our safety net.”
The goal of the “Sweat Equity” pilot program is to build a network of TANF recipients — including homeless and formerly homeless TANF clients — and provide training in construction trades as well as life skills. The program will provide education and work experience to enable TANF clients to obtain higher wages, sustainable employment, and enhanced skills for higher degrees of self-sufficiency and independence from public assistance.
Using the authority to renovate vacant DC buildings for homeless clients using Housing Trust Fund funding, DHS hopes to replicate this program in other renovation projects. “We are excited at the prospect of establishing this pilot program to assist in transitioning more TANF families toward self-sufficiency. It is the culmination of ideas, planning and commitment by a small dedicated group of professionals who desire to improve the lives of District residents,” said DHS Income Maintenance Administrator Deborah Carroll.
The Sweat Equity pilot program is part of the DHS effort to redesign its TANF program to enhance the ability of the customer to build his/her capacity, increase their earnings and successfully transition from welfare assistance to self-sufficiency. The primary focus of the redesign is building a system that considers the personal responsibility and individual needs of the customers and providing tailored services to match the customer’s unique goals and personal and family circumstances.
*information for this story was gathered through the dc.gov website.