HOPE works to reduce recidivism and unemployment in Tampa

In 2013, HOPE successfully persuaded the Tampa City Council to tackle unemployment by passing the Tampa Criminal History Screening Practices Ordinance that removes from the city’s job application the question asking if an applicant has a criminal record, thereby reducing discrimination in the hiring process and opening doors to potential employment.

In 2010-2011, HOPE got Hillsborough Community College to develop nine Fast-Track Job Skill Certificate programs, which will give unemployed individuals an opportunity to acquire relevant job skills.

$950,000 leveraged for homelessness service providers

Charlottesville, VA- IMPACT catalyzed a restructuring of the community’s approach to homelessness at their 2013 Nehemiah Action. Charlottesville city manager and Albemarle County Executives agreed to convene a Roundtable to Reduce Homelessness, which would enable the entire community to better share information and leverage funding so that we might see an actual reduction in the number of homeless individuals and families in our area. In the time since this commitment was made, the roundtable has leveraged an additional $950,000 for service providers that otherwise would have been left on the table. We know of 16 families who have been prevented from becoming homeless as a direct result of the way this roundtable has changed our community.

BUILD presses for fair hiring practices

In 2011, BUILD began to research re-entry and learned that 20,000 people in Lexington have a criminal background. It was determined that almost every problem related to re-entry branches from employment barriers, specifically, employers not willing to hiring ex-offenders. There were a number of organizations training and providing services to prepare ex-offenders for the job market, but the majority of ex-offenders were still not being hired due to their criminal history. Studies show that if ex-offenders do not obtain employment within 90 days of release, they are 500 times more likely to re-offend. BUILD also looked for best practices in other communities and found that many communities now conduct criminal background checks only for positions that require them by law or sensitive positions for which a background check is necessary. For example, in Minneapolis, nearly 60% of applicants with a potentially disqualifying record were hired in 2007, compared to 5.7% under the prior policy. As a result of BUILD’s 2012 Nehemiah Action, Lexington’s Mayor, his administration, and local employers agreed to attend an Ex-Offender Employment Workshop to deepen their understanding of fair, effective hiring practices. Following this workshop, Mayor Gray committed to promote hiring policies that help reduce recidivism by getting people with a criminal history back to work.

Miami becomes first Florida city to pass local hiring ordinance

Miami, FL – After a two and a half year battle, Miami Dade County became the first in Florida to pass a local hiring ordinance, thanks to the work of PACT. The First Source Referral Hiring Ordinance requires and enforces that county contracts in Miami Dade must first seek out qualified job candidates from South Florida Workforce before hiring from outside of the county. PACT brought together the County Manager, Small Business Development, Procurement Management, and South Florida Workforce to draft the ordinance. Once the ordinance was drafted, PACT got four commissioners to sponsor it, with Commissioner Barbara Jordan serving as the primary sponsor. After initially failing on a 6-6 tied vote, PACT continued to push for its passage. On May 1, 2012, the ordinance passed on a 10-3 vote, and has already secured employement for more than 1,000 Miami Dade residents.

CLOUT reaches out to unbanked households

Louisville, KY – As a result of CLOUT’s work, Mayor Jerry Abramson agreed to convene local banks and credit unions to develop an initiative to offer more affordable and accessible products and services to reach out to the 29,000 unbanked households in the Louisville area (i.e., families without a checking or savings account and are likely to pay high transaction fees for services like check cashing or exorbitant interest on loans). The “Bank On Louisville” initiative was officially launched in July 2010. There are sixteen financial institutions participating. Since its launch, over 16,000 persons have opened new accounts, with an average balance of $853 and with 91% of the accounts remaining open.

CLOUT is also working to secure a statewide interest rate cap of 36% on payday loans, which currently charge approximately 400% APR in Kentucky. Payday loans are small, short-term loans that are intended to cover a borrower’s expenses until his/her next payday, but regularly become a “debt trap” in which the borrower has to repeatedly renew the loan and pay associated fees every two weeks or take out loans to cover interest on previous loans. CLOUT has assisted in the development of the Kentucky Coalition for Responsible Lending, a diverse coalition of over 60 organizations across the state who support a rate cap.