Lowering Employment Barriers

Homeless Job Seekers

The Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County (WDC) has championed homeless employment initiatives for almost 20 years, believing that employment services should be part of the range of support and assistance for homeless men and women.

National Leadership: Connecting Homeless Jobs Seekers to Work

Explore our national partners' best practices here!

In June 2011, the Butler Family Fund awarded a grant to the WDC to gather and share practical ways that urban workforce investment boards can open the doors of their one-stop systems to a larger number of homeless customers and serve them more effectively.

The WDC convened the first meeting of a National Advisory Board in November 2011. Representatives from five workforce investment boards and their local homeless services met and shared promising practices, perceived benefits, drawbacks and obstacles to implementation. Learn more about this effort and about the effective strategies being used around the country.

Partnership with Building Changes

The WDC and Building Changes have worked together over the last several years to bring the housing and employment worlds together. Building Changes is an intermediary and advocacy organization whose mission is to “end homelessness together” and administers the Washington Families Fund (WFF), a $20 million public-private fund that provides housing and services to homeless families and children in need.

Through a new partnership funded jointly by the WDC and Building Changes, a Navigator will work within the Washington Families Fund housing units in King County to bridge homeless families to WorkSource employment services, while also enhancing the capacity of WorkSource to connect to housing for customers. The goal is to enable both systems to better meet the critical housing and employment needs of homeless and housing-unstable individuals.

Homeless Intervention Project (HIP)

The Homeless Intervention Project has served more than 5,000 homeless adults since 1995. HIP is a consortium of four service providers funded by the WDC through a grant from HUD. More than 350 homeless men and women are served each year, with 60% of them exiting with employment and increased housing stability.

HIP is based on intensive case management and housing assistance for each individual, determined by comprehensive assessment of needs, assets and barriers. In addition to occupational skills training, HIP includes assistance in basic skills (reading, math etc.), life skills (e.g. maintaining a budget) and “soft skills” for work.

HIP providers work closely with housing providers and others serving the homeless to ensure comprehensive, non-duplicative services that efficiently use resources.

HIP Service Providers

  • Community Psychiatric Clinic serves homeless adults with mental illness. Specialized employment services are provided by CPC’s Stepworks Enterprises, which offers 30- to 90-day paid work experience focusing on basic transferable work skills.
  • FareStart trains homeless adults for employment in the food-service industry through a rigorous, 16-week job training program integrated into its restaurants and food-service contracts.
  • The Seattle Conservation Corps provides paid work experience in public-works projects through the City of Seattle Parks Department, or, for those who are work-ready, immediate job-search assistance.
  • YWCA HIP services are tailored to the needs of participants with a range of skill levels and barriers, and help to connect people to training provided by local colleges and other programs.