Future of city’s Jobs Now hinges on further stimulus 

The future of a program that has put thousands of San Franciscans to work in the past year faces a key hurdle today when funding is voted on in Washington, D.C.

The Jobs Now program started more than a year ago using federal stimulus dollars to cover 100 percent of employee wages, excluding benefits and overtime, for workers hired through the program. The City is placing, on average, 75 workers a week into jobs and has to date employed more than 2,100 residents, including janitors and vet assistants, said Trent Rhorer, director of the Human Services Agency.

The U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on the Small Business and Infrastructure Jobs Tax Act of 2010 today. If passed, it could result in more than $900 million for California, $60 million of which would go to San Francisco to extend the Jobs Now program for another year.

The City could potentially find work for another 2,000 residents if the program is extended, Rhorer said.

“It was dead and it may be resuscitated,” Mayor Gavin Newsom said of the stimulus bill. “We are still crossing our fingers this gets through the House.”

If the bill doesn’t pass, San Francisco’s Jobs Now program would expire Sept. 30, likely putting more people out of work at a time when The City is coping with a 10 percent unemployment rate. San Francisco would begin dismantling the program starting next month, Rhorer said.

Steve Sarver, co-owner of the San Francisco Soup Co., said he would be able to retain most of the 10 employees he hired through Jobs Now. But if the program ends in September, he will have to put a freeze on hiring.

Likewise, Arik Levy, who owns the Laundry Locker, said unless the program continues beyond September, he won’t be able to grow his business as planned.

esherbert@sfexaminer.com

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