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Public housing gets $2 million for job opportunities

Posted: 7:01 PM, Feb 20, 2020
Updated: 2020-02-21 18:25:56-05

CORRECTION: The grant is specifically for Horizons and Renaissance Preserve residents.

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Fort Myers housing authority is getting a big grant from Washington to help people living in public housing get jobs. The Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded them with a $2.3million grant for their Jobs Plus Program.

In partnership with Career Source Southwest Florida, Jobs Plus will offer residents job placement, a rent incentive and financial counseling. That’s the long-term goal.

The announcement came right before the housing authority’s 2nd annual career fair in the Dunbar community Thursday night.

Africa Newby with Career Source Southwest Florida, a sponsor for the fair said it’s geared towards jobseekers ages 16 - 24 but it’s open to people of all ages.

“As we do know unemployment is low, but the workforce continues to evolve. So, we want to get the young ones exploring and to meet the demands of the workforce evolving,” she said.

Christina Bellamy who works with teens at the STARS Somplex said she’s proud to host the fair in Dunbar.

“The more opportunities that we can bring right here for the people of this community, the better,” she said.

Vivian WatkinsThe Housing Authority of the City of Fort Myers said there’s even more to celebrate, thanks to that grant from HUD. She said it’ll allow them to bring job opportunities to people living in public housing on a regular basis.

“Receiving that grant, we certainly know that we’re well on our way to interrupting generational poverty,” she said.

Unemployed residents will get paired with a case manager to help them set short and long-term goals. Participants will also get training and educational advancement.

Watkins said their rent will also stay at a set rate while they’re enrolled in the program.

“While that family is working and making money, that family will be able to save,” she said.

The Jobs Plus Program will provide career support for people living in public housing complexes including Southward Village, Renaissance Preserve and Horizons for the next four years.