Wheels to Work: Driving to End Homelessness
Paratransit’s Mobility Training and Job Search Shuttle Service for the Homeless
In 2009, Sacramento Steps Forward’s Homeless Employment Committee received two donated vans from the United Auburn Indian Community. A recent survey done at the 2010 Sacramento Homeless Connect event had shown that 88% of homeless people surveyed wanted to work either full or part-time, but 30% of homeless people cited transportation as a major barrier to employment. Additional data gathered from the survey revealed that 70% of people surveyed had become homeless due to economic reasons: insufficient income or job loss; 34% of people had either a license or certificate.
This information led the Homeless Employment Committee to develop the Paratransit Mobility Training and Job Search Shuttle Services for the Homeless, or "Wheels to Work". The program is a collaboration between Paratransit Inc., Women’s Empowerment, Sacramento Steps Forward, The Sacramento Housing Alliance, the Department of Human Assistance and the California Department of Rehabilitation.
Paratransit worked with the Department of Human Assistance to secure federal Jobs Access and Reverse Commute (JARC) funding. Paratransit used these funds to register, insure, repair and retrofit the two vans. Now, the vans are used to transport homeless men and women to job interviews, training programs, access a mobile computer lab, and reach several key service sites. The Wheels to Work vans are the missing link, connecting vulnerable communities to employment opportunities.
Services available on the Wheels to Work vans include: job counseling, resume-writing, job opportunities, interview preparation, peer mentoring and training to ride Regional Transit. See our "Find Help: Employment" page for access to route schedule.
The vans are driven by seven formerly homeless women who graduated from Women's Empowerment, a nonprofit that works with homeless women to help them build the skills they need to go back to work and maintain stable housing. The women, known as Community Outreach Ambassadors, additionally provided input on the vans' route and compiled the employment resources available on the vans. The women began their vehicle operations training in August, and since then have logged nearly 330 training hours in class and behind the wheel!
Visit paratransit.org/wheels-to-work to learn more!
Read the 2010 Homeless Employment Report here.