Gov. Malloy and Delegation Announce Federal Grant to Help Once-Incarcerated Veterans Receive a ‘Second Chance,’ Gain Employment, and Avoid Homelessness
(HARTFORD, CT) - Governor Dannel P. Malloy and members of Connecticut's Congressional delegation today announced that the U.S. Department of Labor's Veterans' Employment and Training Service has awarded The WorkPlace with a $130,000 grant to provide services that will assist formerly incarcerated veterans considered "at risk" of becoming homeless in finding meaningful employment. The Incarcerated Veterans Transition Program grant focuses on providing job referral and counseling services, and will be used to supplement the Governor's Second Chance Society goals of ensuring that nonviolent offenders are successfully reintegrated into society and become productive members of Connecticut's economy.
The WorkPlace, located in Bridgeport, is one of the state's five Workforce Development Boards and is a partner in the state's goal to end veteran homelessness. Last month, the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness certified that Connecticut had become the first state in the nation to end chronic veteran homelessness.
"We are making Connecticut a Second Chance Society, and that's lowering crime, boosting jobs, and ending the cycle of crime and poverty. For too long, we invested in permanent punishment instead of permanent reform, and we built modern jails instead of modern schools. Each day, we are investing in permanent reformation instead of permanent punishment, as we help people get back on their feet. This grant will no doubt help in these efforts," Governor Malloy said. "We have ended chronic homelessness among veterans, and with this grant, we're helping those who have served America get a job to help give them a second chance and avoid homelessness altogether."
"We must ensure that our veterans re-enter our communities as productive, accountable citizens - and this funding will help us help them achieve those goals," Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman said. "Homelessness and joblessness are terribly damaging cycles, putting these resources in place will protect residents, families, and communities."
The WorkPlace will partner with the state's Department of Correction facilities to identify veterans slated for release from incarceration within six months, or those released within the previous 12 months. Enrolled participants will receive mentoring, job readiness skills and job search assistance from the Connecticut Department of Labor, and will be connected to the Department of Veterans' Affairs. Program participants will also receive individual career plans, including goals related to personal issues, such as counseling, substance abuse treatment, housing, and child custody/support issues that can affect workplace success. The focus will be placed on continuing education, vocational training and employment placement.
"This grant enables us to continue to offer some of the most comprehensive services to veterans in the American workforce system," Joseph Carbone, President and CEO of The WorkPlace, said. "This program will be implemented with the guidance of collaborative partners creating a holistic approach to meeting the needs of veterans. We will increase employment while enhancing their probability of career attainment."
"Ending chronic homelessness is a testament to the sustained, tireless work of advocates who have devoted their lives and careers to the cause. Maintaining this major milestone will require sustained vigilance and relentless commitment," Senator Richard Blumenthal said. "The WorkPlace has been on the front lines of that effort, working to address the root causes and risk factors that lead to veteran unemployment and homelessness - including incarceration. I applaud their life-changing work and commend the Department of Labor for their wise investment."
"The men and women who have served our country should never be without a home. But too often, formerly incarcerated Americans, including our veterans, face unreasonable barriers that prevent them from securing gainful employment, limiting their ability to care for themselves and their families," Senator Chris Murphy said. "This important grant from the Department of Labor will help Connecticut's vulnerable veterans secure stable employment, and I look forward to seeing this award reinforce the state's work to end chronic veterans' homelessness."
"We reveal a lot about our society through the way that we treat our veterans," Congressman Jim Himes said. "So many of our young veterans have spent more time than anyone ever should in the line of fire, and have returned home with the physical, emotional and psychological scars to prove it. When they end up incarcerated, or otherwise involved in the criminal justice system, it is a true tragedy. I am hopeful that this grant can get as many vets as possible back on their feet and help them rebuild their lives."
"The process of ending veteran homelessness in Connecticut consists of strong collaboration and a coordinated effort among several key stakeholders across the state," Connecticut Department of Housing Commissioner Evonne M. Klein said. "In addition to identifying and housing homeless veterans as soon as possible, we also need to address their long-term needs. This grant from the federal government ensures that we have the necessary tools to help our veteran's find permanent employment, keeping them in their homes for the long term. Our veterans have sacrificed so much for our state and for our country and it's a privilege to be able to serve them."
"Often the most important step in ending homelessness for our veterans is connecting them to a job," Connecticut Department of Labor Commissioner Sharon M. Palmer said. "Working in partnership with The WorkPlace, our agency's veterans' representatives will be providing employment services that include résumé development, workshops for skills building and interview assistance, as well as help connecting them to employers. We look forward to taking part in a program that helps our veterans, their families and ultimately puts people to work."
"This program is just another example of our efforts to give offenders a second chance and ultimately reduce recidivism," Connecticut Department of Correction Commissioner Scott Semple said. "By providing veterans, who are returning to the community, the tools with which to find employment we are to a small degree repaying them for their service to our country."
"This is an exciting time for Veterans in Connecticut as we have become the first state in the union to end chronic homelessness through the coordination and determination of Governor Malloy and the various departments," Connecticut Department of Veterans' Affairs Commissioner Sean Connolly said. "Now, we will continue to narrow the gap with these critical next steps of prevention that focuses on our incarcerated Veterans. It is a big win for our Veterans."
Connecticut has been nationally recognized as a leader in the effort to prevent and end homelessness. Last year, Governor Malloy joined a small coalition of states to develop a comprehensive plan to end veteran homelessness by the end of 2015. To date, Connecticut is on track to meet this goal, which was reinforced by the August announcement that the state has ended chronic veteran homelessness.