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Posted at 02:25 PM ET, 05/16/2012

District jobs program puts 3,000 residents to work

Mayor Vincent C. Gray announced Wednesday that 3,000 District residents have now found jobs through the One City One Hire program, an aggressive effort to put 10,000 unemployed residents back to work in a year’s time.

Gray (D) used his biweekly news conference to give an update on the program that launched in September 2011 and is modeled after a similar initiative in Atlanta.

The District Department of Employment Services program matches unemployed residents with jobs available, mostly in the private sector. The city lures employers with tax credits, wage subsidies and money for on-the-job training. When the program began last year, 15 businesses signed up. Gray said the city now has 655 employer participants.

“Hopefully, it won’t be long before we’re celebrating thousands more hired through One City One Hire,” he said at the news conference, which was held at the PNC Bank building in downtown D.C.

Michael N. Harreld, regional president of PNC, described “an organizational problem” that created a disconnect between employers and potential employees. He said the One City One Hire program is resolving that. “What we are about is not the alphabet soup of this,” he said, referring to shorthands, like DOES and DOL (Department of Labor). “It’s not all of the acronyms we read about. What we are about is hope.”

“If we leave thousands behind, we still have miles to go before we sleep,” Harreld said.

City officials showed a video of formerly unemployed Darryl Pixley, who was recently hired as assistant building engineer at DC USA, the Columbia Heights shopping center and parking garage.

David Stein, director of building operations at DC USA, said he was having a “difficult time” filling the position. He said the ideal candidate would be from Columbia Heights and have “people skills, positive attitude.”

DC USA was soon matched with Pixley, a 31-year-old Columbia Heights resident. In an interview, Pixley said he learned about One City One Hire as he was completing a paid 12-week training program at Washington Parks and People, a nonprofit that restores public parks.

He said he went through a pre-screening at DOES and was later called about the DC USA job. “I wasn’t unemployed that long,” he said.

But Pixley described his employment history as unsteady, being laid off from demolition and construction jobs after a few months.

According to a news release issued by the mayor’s office, nearly 40 percent of the hires in the program are from wards 5, 7 and 8, communities hit hardest by unemployment.

DOES spokesman David Thompson said the city does not have data for more than 1,200 hires, recorded from employers participating in the program that currently do not have to give specific information about the residents hired. But of the 3,000, 14 percent have been identified as being from Ward 8, 13 percent from Ward 7 and 9 percent from Ward 5. An additional 25 percent have identified themselves as being from the city’s other five wards.

By  |  02:25 PM ET, 05/16/2012

 
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