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Posted at 11:40 AM ET, 03/15/2010

Fenty to announce plans to hire jobless residents

By Washington Post editors

More than a thousand District residents are expected to pack a church Monday night to hear Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and ministers from the Washington Interfaith Network announce that they plan to train jobless residents and put them to work weatherizing homes.

In a city where the unemployment rate recently reached 12 percent, the announcement at Covenant Baptist Church east of the Anacostia River is a big deal, organizers said. The network, known as WIN, and the mayor will pledge to weatherize for free between 2,000 and 4,000 homes of low income residents to cut their energy bills, and it will train and hire up to 700 unemployed residents to do the work.

Rev. Lionel Edmonds, pastor of Mount Lebanon Baptist Church and a co-founder of WIN, said the jobs will pay $13.25 to $25 per hour, depending on the task. The focus of the training by the Laborers International Union, a partner in the effort, “will be installing insulation,” Edmonds said. “Even that basic installation will help people save significantly on their energy bill.”

The union will recruit workers through a network of 50 churches, community groups and the city Department of Employment Services. The training will run seven days, Edmonds said. Job candidates must undergo drug screening and criminal background checks.

“We will only train folks once we have a job for them,” Edmonds said. The jobs will be created by low-income homeowners who sign up to weatherize their homes. Edmonds said the city and churches have a database of thousands of homes in Wards 5, 6, 7 and 8 that could use weatherization.

The Sustainable Energy Trust Fund will pay for the weatherization and employment with part of the $20 million it collects yearly from local energy bills. The Property Assessed Clean Energy financing program will allow middle- and upper-middle income residents to borrow up to $10,000 to weatherize their homes.

The city has promised to put unemployed District residents to work at the Convention Center and Nationals Park construction sites in the past only to fall short. Construction crews hired a majority of suburban workers, complaining that poorly educated city residents could not pass training exams or drug tests.

Edmonds said WIN plans to overcome that problem with strong oversight of contractors. “We will not allow the contractor to skip over District residents,” he said. “We prefer contractors who hire in the District. To me, those big employment projects like the convention center and the baseball stadium don’t work.

“It’s about building relationships in the community and with workers, and that’s what we plan to do.”

-- Darryl Fears

By Washington Post editors  | March 15, 2010; 11:40 AM ET
Categories:  DC  
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The voters will not fall for this again. this is how he got the voters the first time. Smoke and mirrors...

Posted by: gordonbundy | March 15, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Is this a good idea?

People receive education and apprenticeship for a reason. You don't have to watch HGTV long to know that screwing up an insulation install (like placing the vapor barrier wrong, not providing room for it to breathe) can cause major problems later. If you want to help lower-income folks with jobs, you take care of the illegal immigration issue. I'm not bashing those who are illegal, but the issue itself causes depressed wages AND because they were able to get jobs at wages non-illegal citizens can compete with, they also garner next-level labor experience that will give them a leg up later. If you solve THAT issue--however you wish to, then the low-income issue should solve itself.

Posted by: NovaMike | March 15, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

It's pitiful that in the past, potential hirees could not pass background or drug tests. I have some advice for out of work residents who want a job: Stop using drugs, because you will probably have to undergo drug tests in order to land a decent job. One would think that anyone seeking employment would be sure to stay clean to increase chances of employment. But I guess that doesn't apply to people who don't care. Get it together.

Posted by: brandip_77 | March 15, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

This is an election year! This is the same monster who declared war on city workers and fired them. Now you have a jobs program? Get real, it's just election talk, plain and simple.

Posted by: candycane1 | March 15, 2010 5:23 PM | Report abuse

I never understand why it becomes the job of the state to create jobs. If the DC government could lighten up on their taxes, businesses could afford to hire people. At this rate, the government will become the biggest employer, which is not what the government was set up for. As a nation we are going down the wrong path.

Posted by: Jsuf | March 15, 2010 7:49 PM | Report abuse

First off, I find it ironic that this religious group who is supposed to be in touch with the community needs would partner with the LIUNA. LIUNA was on both Convention Center Hotel and the Baseball stadium and they could not meet any of the goals. Now all of sudden that them membership is down, they are able to find folks. How about the fact that if we continue to make DC Construction Projects Union Only, we will have to continue to hire folks from MD and VA because the Construction Workforce is not Union based. How about the fact that this group WIN is really a cover group for the Unions, the same ones who attacked Fenty. As for him attacking DC Government Workers, no he attacked the non performing workers who were getting over because they had union protection. Funny enough the majority of them lived in MD and VA as well. How about we find someone DC Residents to take care of?

Posted by: Boggus500 | March 16, 2010 11:45 AM | Report abuse

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