Giving construction jobs to the homeless and others looking for work had been a part of the appeal of a $13 million project to triple the size of the Room in the Inn's Campus for Human Development on Eighth Avenue South.
But it didn't happen like that.
Many of those who expected jobs have watched — some with anger and annoyance — as the glass-faced, urban contemporary building has been rising from the ground with skilled carpenters, roofers and other workers.
"I felt really disappointed," said Calvin Browne, who is unemployed and had been using campus services. "A lot of people had their hopes up high that they would indeed get employment, and it didn't happen."
They had been told jobs would be available, he said, and they took part in training classes they believed were in preparation for the work on the 40,000-square-foot addition.
Instead, a few have gotten cleanup work and odd jobs for part of the time — and are pleased to have that.
So why weren't more employed, because the contract calls for 30 percent of new hires being those in need? Put simply, the bad economy.
"They're not hiring new people," Rachel Hester, executive director of the campus, said of the contractor doing the work.
The contractor and subcontractors — limited by the slow construction industry — would have had to lay off employees to hire new ones. Training campus participants received, she said, was intended to be of benefit for any potential jobs in the community.
in the construction industry is running at about 27 percent to 28 percent nationally, according to Phillip Wolfe, supervisor of the campus project for American Constructors Inc., a local group that's serving as the general contractor and also built the Schermerhorn Symphony Center and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
"We've had people every day coming up and asking to put in applications," he said. "We're just not taking applications right now."
More work, money
The new center, built in a semi-circle connected to the old building, will be the campus hub, with a chapel, classrooms for job readiness, laundry facilities, an art gallery with works by participants, and a Department of Human Services office.
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Economy scuttles jobs meant for needy | tennessean.com | The Tennessean