AUSTIN, Texas — The homeless often face barriers when trying to find employment. This week, after reaching the one-year anniversary of their new program, a nonprofit said they are making a difference for those trying to get on their feet and find a job.
In October 2018, The Other Ones Foundation (Too Found) created its Workforce First program to provide the homeless with jobs cleaning the green space in Austin and reduce panhandling.
Since its inception, the organization has provided more than 130 jobs and paid out more than $100,000 in earned income to the homeless or at-risk, according to Chris Baker, the executive director of the nonprofit.
The employees get paid each day after completing the job.
"When they come in, there's so much desperation, so much isolation," Baker said. "They become a member of our community and then they really start taking the steps necessary to get into the housing to get full-time jobs."
The organization is primarily funded by the work they complete. This consists of cleaning both private and public grounds. Baker estimated they have picked up approximately 60 tons of garbage in one year.
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"Some of those people have worked for us for months and months and come to us with a lot of barriers to regular employment and housing," Baker said.
However, Too Found helps those struggling to work get the proper forms of identification, Baker said. They also provide transportation to and from the job site.
Gilbert Palacios was hired by Too Found about eight months ago. He said the organization, which pays employees $15 an hour, changed his life.
"It means a lot," Palacios said. "You can have money in your pocket. You can have confidence. You can buy your own bus tickets, or whatever you need."
Palacios plans to get a full-time job after this, and then save up for permanent housing.
"People can say, 'Hey, look at that. Do you remember him? Look at him now,'" Palacios said with a gleam in his eye.
Currently, about 100 people sit on a waitlist to start working for this organization.
Baker said the next step to grow the company includes an expansion three times its size this week. He hopes this will help to tackle that waitlist.
"With this expansion, one of the crews that we are going to be working with, a seven-person crew, is going to be made up exclusively of veterans who are homeless, in a shelter, and on a housing track," Baker said.
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