By Caroline Crawford, Assistant Development Manager, P.N. Hoffman

In anticipation of Phase Two construction of The Wharf, Hoffman Madison Waterfront (HMW) continues to work with Building Futures, the DC Housing Authority (DCHA) and Court Services & Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA) to provide employment opportunities for DC residents. Through this partnership, 31 low-income DC residents and returning citizens have previously been hired for construction jobs and apprenticeships at The Wharf. Building Futures is a results-based program of The Community Services Agency of the Metropolitan Washington Council, AFL-CIO, that serves disadvantaged DC residents who face obstacles to employment. Historically, approximately 75% of the students are returning citizens and 20% are referred by DCHA.

Building Futures’ pre-apprenticeship training combines hands on construction skills training with construction math, blueprint reading, resume writing, interviewing skills, on the job relationship-building, time management, orientation to the construction industry and apprenticeships. Building Futures also provides case management and job placement to its graduates.

Building Futures graduates often have personal, economic and professional obstacles that have kept them out of productive career pathways. Over the course of the training, Building Futures staff works with students individually to overcome these obstacles while students learn essential construction industry skills. The Wharf will support the Building Futures program over the next three years, as part of a $1 million commitment to the District for Workforce Intermediary Programs. The funds will provide critical stipends for students, increased retention support for graduates and required equipment and supplies such as work boots.

“I think it’s fantastic that in just six-weeks of training we can connect DC residents to opportunities they didn’t even know existed, and in many cases help prepare them for what can be a new life-long career in construction,” said Sylvia Casaro, Client Service Coordinator for Building Futures. Casaro tells the story of her most recent DCHA recruit, a woman with some office background, but no construction experience. This Spring, the woman successfully graduated from Building Futures and was hired right away into a one-year carpentry apprenticeship program.

Through the efforts of Brian Harris, Director of Resident Services for DCHA, Building Futures and The Wharf’s community partners, a recent information session at the Southwest Family Enhancement and Career Center drew about 25 interested candidates.

“This program partners so well with DCHA’s Workforce Development Initiative by providing not only training and well-paying jobs, but encouragement to DCHA customers. Their skills can be utilized on The Wharf project and will have a positive economic impact on their families,” said DCHA Executive Director Tyrone Garrett.   

The next information session will be in July at the Southwest Family Enhancement and Career Center at 203 N St., SW. Please check with the Family Enhancement Center for the date, which will be determined soon. Interested individuals should also reach out to Sylvia Casaro, at 202-974-8223 or scasaro@dclabor.org for more information.

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