Helping the Homeless and Underemployed Find Hope

Oaklanders Hard-Pressed to Find Housing Even with Minimum Wage Jobs

Stacey Harris with his son. Photo by Adam L. Turner.

 Stacey Harris with his son. Photo by Adam L. Turner.

Stacey Harris is on a mission to provide for himself and his son in this challenging economy. As a single father who is also struggling to find stable and affordable housing, securing a good job makes all the difference.

Harris and his son have been homeless, sometimes staying with friends.

Along his journey to find stable employment, Harris has attended the career center at the Oakland Private Industry Council (PIC) where he says counselors helped him develop his résumé, with transportation costs and support in finding stable work. He recently enrolled in truck driving school through help from the PIC.

“Between taking care of my son, trying to find work and trying to find stable housing,” he explained, “to say it’s challenging is an understatement. It’s not easy finding stable living conditions in Alameda County. I just want to be able to take care of my son.”

 

“A Mistake Cannot Define You”

Sylvia recently started working at the Unity Council after receiving help in her job search from the Oakland PIC. Photo by Ashley Chambers.

Sylvia recently started working at the Unity Council after receiving help in her job search from the Oakland PIC. Photo by Ashley Chambers.

For Oakland resident Sylvia, one mistake should not define who a person is. She is a testament to that.

After having a run-in with the law 13 years ago, she has been searching for work for the past four years.

Last week, her search ended at the Unity Council where she now works as a program assistant. During her long job search, she had almost reached a breaking point.

“I kept thinking my record would deter me from getting a job. I felt hopeless,” Sylvia said, overcome with emotion.

After the Unity Council referred her to the Oakland Private Industry Council (PIC), she met counselors Louis King and Ellen Hoeft Edenfield. Their support and resources helped restore her hope in gaining employment despite her previous history.

“I met Mr. King and he gave me really good hope,” she said. “He told me, we can help you.”

“I’m very grateful for organizations like Unity Council and Oakland PIC. They really care about people. They made me feel comfortable and okay in dealing with my issue.”

She hopes to find a support group where she can help others who have a prior record find employment. Sylvia looks forward to growing in her new job and applying her computer and language skills to help her community.

(Sylvia’s last name has been omitted from the article to protect her identity).