Providence Housing providing jobs training for over 200 residents

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — More than 200 residents of the Hartford Park and Manton Heights public housing developments have enrolled in Jobs Plus, a grant-funded program run by the Providence Housing Authority.

Staffers from the PHA, local officials and partners, and Jobs Plus participants met Thursday morning to mark the progress of the program, which launched in April.

The PHA received a four-year, $2.9-million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to run the Jobs Plus program. The PHA was one of 24 public housing authorities in the country selected for the competitive grant program.

Jobs Plus aims to increase residents’ earned income without penalizing them with a rent increase, with the goal of creating a “culture of work” in public housing.

The staff established partnerships with local organizations to provide participants with access to work-readiness training, industry-specific job skills training, and job placement and retention services.

Diana Saldana, who lives in Manton Heights, started working as a part-time Jobs Plus community outreach worker in May, and in August she got a full-time job with benefits as an administrative assistant at We Make RI.

Another aspect of the program is financial literacy. Jennifer Hawkins, executive director of One Neighborhood Builders, said her group is offering financial literacy and financial coaching help to residents.

Carmen Navarro from Hartford Park received financial literacy training, and also enlisted in ESL classes to help her understand and pass the Rhode Island Nursing Assistant state exam. She trained to become a certified nursing assistant while also holding down a full-time job.

Mayor Jorge Elorza, acting City Council President Sabina Matos, Councilwoman and PHA board member Mary Kay Harris, Nicolas Retsinas, who chairs the boards of both the PHA and Rhode Island Housing, and Progreso Latino Executive Director Mario Bueno were among those who attended the event to cheer on the PHA effort, led by Program Manager Julie Piccolo.

Many paid tribute to PHA Executive Director Paul Tavares, who is retiring at the end of the year.

“I thank you for your honorable service,” said Nancy Smith Greer, director of HUD’s Rhode Island office.

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