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  • Three Cabinet secretaries visit County employment center

    Jun 02, 2015 | Read More News
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    Richard Elias and Julian CastroThe U.S. Secretaries of Labor, Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development and the executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness visited Pima County’s Sullivan Jackson Employment Center (SJEC) June 1 as part of the Obama Administration’s effort to end homelessness among America’s veterans in 2015.

    Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, HUD Secretary Julián Castro, and Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald toured the facility at 400 E. 26th St., and met with past and present Sullivan Jackson clients, program staff, veterans, local political leaders and others. The secretaries were joined by Matthew Doherty, executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, for the “All In to End Veteran Homelessness” event.

    The Sullivan Jackson Employment Center opened its doors in 1986 to assist men and women experiencing homelessness with employment and training needs. The County has been working for about 18 months with the City of Tucson, Tucson-Pima Collaboration to End Homelessness, and the VA on a coordinated entry system to end homelessness in the community.

    That system, “allows people experiencing a housing crisis to access a variety of programs and services across our community and gives them a path or process they can follow so they don’t become chronically homeless,” said Pamela Moseley, program specialist with the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS). “We’re getting a lot of technical support on the national level to develop a master list with the name of every homeless veteran.”

    Tucson is part of the 25 Cities Effort, a national strategy through which 25 targeted communities receive technical assistance to coordinate systems to end homelessness. The secretaries and Mr. Doherty also will visit Houston and Las Vegas.

    The first step Sullivan Jackson employment specialists take in helping clients is getting them into transitional housing. “It’s almost impossible to find a job when you’re worried where your next meal will come from or where your family will be sleeping,” said Steve Nelson, program coordinator at the Sullivan Jackson Employment Center.

    The center’s clients also go through a two-week Employability Skills training program before hitting the phones to cold call employers and hunt down job prospects. SJEC also assists clients’ transition to regular work by providing such items as employment tools, uniforms and specialized footwear.

    Sullivan Jackson receives funding from HUD, the Department of Labor’s Homeless Veterans Program, the Pima County Workforce Investment Board, the City of Tucson and United Way. Its namesakes are Eddie Jackson, a longtime labor leader, and Paul Sullivan, , who led local efforts to respond to the problems of homelessness by developing a nationally recognized employment assistance and job training program in Pima County for people experiencing homelessness.

    SJEC is one of several initiatives launched in Pima County to assist veterans and job seekers experiencing homelessness. The county’s One-Stop Kino Veterans’ Workforce Center helps military veterans find jobs and get training, benefits and support services; and to help employers hire veterans. The county also helped build Esperanza En Escalante, a development located near the entrance of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base that provides transitional housing to approximately 75 veterans. The staff assigns a case manager to each vet, and provides other services, such as meetings of nutrition and employment groups, trips to medical appointments and limited medical care. In June the county expects to get formal approval from the Arizona Department of Housing to build 44 one-bedroom units and a community center to permanently house homeless veterans.