Laura Rodriguez understands the struggles of living on a fixed income and trying to make it month by month. She lived at the Nickerson Gardens public housing development from 1985 to 1991. Laura is one of three case managers with the Housing Authority’s Workforce Development Unit. She’s been helping clients for 28 years.
“Helping people who didn’t think they can earn money build a path toward a career is what I enjoy the most,” said Rodriguez.
For nearly three decades HACLA has operated a WorkForce Development Unit with the goal of enhancing access to employment opportunities not just for our residents but the City’s vulnerable population as a whole. The case management model is based on a three prong approach of enrollment, train and placement with a focus on construction and healthcare fields.
The service is provided at the Watts/Los Angeles Worksource Center located at the Imperial Courts public housing development. This center receives various grants including federal funds through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).
Case manager’s like Rodriguez take the strategy of assessing an individual’s barrier to employment followed by designing an employment plan which often times include enrollment into a training program as well as connecting the client to other supportive services. Once the client is equipped with the required and necessary skills then case managers are able to move forward with job placement.
“I probably helped one thousand people get connected to the Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program. Recently, I helped two clients. One didn’t have her high school diploma so we helped her get one and enrolled her into a medical assistant program. She is now working as a medical assistant. Another person came to us for help after being laid off. She was able to get her CNA training and she is working now making $13 an hour,” explained Rodriguez.
She also recalls a homeless man who came through the doors of the Worksource Center about five years ago. He was able to complete an oil refinery program to become a welder. He landed a job as a welder.
“He went from being homeless to making $32 an hour,” said Rodriguez.
The Workforce Development Unit and the staff there not only provide access to job opportunities but it gives people hope that they can build a better life through self-sufficiency.
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