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Fighting to Bring Jobs to South LA Residents
By Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson
Published August 20, 2020

Marqueece Harris Dawson (Courtesy photo)

The age-old adage “A good Job can save a life” rings especially true during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Millions of people across Los Angeles have lost their jobs while thousands of people have lost their lives. COVID-19 continues to threaten the health and economic vitality of South Los Angeles neighborhoods. The need for secure permanent employment is heightened even more as California grapples with mountains of requests for unemployment benefits.

Long before coronavirus, the City’s Targeted Local Hire Program (TLH) helped hundreds of South LA residents access rewarding careers in public service. As councilmember, it was important for me to spearhead this program and ensure that residents from South Los Angeles and other disadvantaged communities could access high quality public service careers in the communities they live in.

The TLH Program provides an alternative career pathway into city civil service via full time, paid, on-the-job training for entry-level City positions for individuals that may struggle to access employment.  Black and Brown residents and others have traditionally struggled to access these careers due to systemic barriers. The TLH program aims to remove those barriers and ensure our city’s workforce reflects our residents.

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A key aspect of the Targeted Local Hire Program involves targeted outreach to disenfranchised and underrepresented populations. Many individuals included in these targeted populations are from communities that suffer from institutional racism and the injustices protestors are demanding that our society address, following the killing of George Floyd. These people include residents from disenfranchised zip codes, formerly incarcerated individuals, opportunity youth, former gang members, current and formerly homeless individuals, older workers, transgender individuals, individuals with disabilities, and veterans. A quality job is the first step in remediating the decades of harm done to individuals in these communities.

Since the program was implemented in the City in 2016, hundreds of Angelenos have already used TLH to jumpstart their public service careers and I hope that it will effectively connect thousands more to high quality jobs. Here are some success stories that demonstrate the transformative power of this program:

“My experience with the TLH program was great, the process went smoothly and quickly.

I was able to obtain my dream job through the TLH program 1 month after applying. I had tried to obtain a job with the City and County in the past but due to testing and lack of knowledge I wasn’t able to obtain it, getting a job with the City of Los Angeles through this program has helped me give a better life to my family.” – Yessica Ruiz, LA HCID, Senior Administrative Clerk:

“The THL program was the light at the end of the tunnel. I went from feeling hopeless just seeing all these doors being closed before me, to having a career changing opportunity full of various possibilities and options.”

“I am truly grateful for the opportunities that this program has provided for me and family. Without the TLH Program, I will still have that fear of the future and of not being able to provide for my family. But I no longer have that fear, I only have hope for my own and my family’s future.”  – Osmara Valencia, Administrative clerk for the Los Angeles department of cannabis regulation.

When City Council adopted the budget for the 2020-21 Fiscal Year, we voted to set aside $90 million out of the LAPD budget for the preservation of city services, reinvestment in disadvantaged communities and communities of color, reimagining public safety service delivery, and the Targeted Local Hire (TLH) Program. We also voted to exempt the TLH program from the citywide hiring freeze so that departments could continue to meet the needs of City services, and move forward with hiring people during a time where Angelenos need it the most.

Recently, I introduced legislation to allocate $20,000,000 for the city’s Targeted Local Hire Program (TLH) as its own budget line item. This legislation has yet to be scheduled and voted on in City Council, thus, city departments are unable to move forward with utilizing the program to hire Angelenos from disadvantaged communities and expand the scope of our city services. The money is available, however, the City Council needs to decide how the total pot of funds set aside for disadvantaged communities out of the LAPD budget will be distributed as a whole citywide.

I urge all Angelenos to partake in this process and call your councilmember to voice your opinion on how we should move forward with using these funds, as well as how soon we should move forward with approving these funds to be used to put Angelenos to work.

Categories: Business | Crenshaw & Around | Economy | Local | Op-Ed | Political
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