More than 200 welfare recipients will be given city jobs as San Francisco plans to continue a program that was axed by the federal government.
The City plans to spend $4 million on the third iteration of the Jobs Now program, which was originally inspired by the Obama Administration’s economic stimulus efforts. The program provides taxpayer-funded salaries instead of public assistance for welfare recipients. It was axed by Congress in September 2010 but remained popular in The City and was renewed with local funds.
Set to begin Oct. 1, the latest version of the program will put 200 people to work for one year in entry-level jobs at the Recreation and Park Department as trash collectors and in the Department of Public Works as neighborhood “ambassadors,” complete with uniforms and specialized graffiti removal equipment.
The workers will clock 32 hours per week and be paid $12.39 per hour, the standard rate for public service trainees.
Mohammed Nuru, the newly minted Public Works director, said the ambassadors will also watch over the neighborhoods and report littering or vandalism in progress.
“They will be reporting anything to do with quality-of-life issues they see occurring on these corridors and calling that into DPW,” he said.
Rec and Park will benefit from the program because it is facing a budget shortage, and the lack of workers has hamstrung the abilities of experienced gardeners, according to Phil Ginsburg, the department’s director.
“The first thing our gardeners do when they come in is pick up garbage — and they do things like that willingly — but it means that planting and more skilled horticultural projects don’t get done,” Ginsburg said.
The $4 million in funding will pay the salaries of the 200 workers, plus staff salaries at the Human Services Agency, which is overseeing the program and assigning pre-selected workers to the jobs based on screening by case workers.
According to Trent Rhorer, executive director of the agency, the money will come out of The City’s strained general fund, but it was available because of savings achieved when the federal government was picking up the tab for the original program.
Rhorer said the majority of the jobs will go to single adults who are almost completely dependent on city-provided assistance, unlike other low-income individuals with dependents who have more opportunities for help from the state and federal governments. He said the jobs in lieu of assistance will free The City of $800,000 in obligations.
Mayor Ed Lee called the program a “win-win” that puts money in the pockets of low-income workers while providing them with basic skills and the pride of holding a job.
200 Welfare recipients who will be employed
32 Hours they will work per week
$12.39 Pay per hour
$800,000 Money saved by providing jobs
$4 million Total cost of the program
Source: San Francisco Human Services Agency