illinois Digital News

How labor shortage could help homeless people find small-business jobs


Many small business owners and entrepreneurs are passionate about reducing homelessness. They understand the plight of those struggling on the streets. There is also an emerging alignment between the interests of homeless advocates and the small business community because of the shared interest in helping Chicagoans get back to work.

Small businesses simply cannot find enough employees and this workforce shortage is having a devastating impact on their operations. Providing adequate funding to not only shelter, but also provide job training for homeless Chicagoans will be crucial for our economic recovery.

Illinois politicians should engage those leading the fight against homelessness and also engage small business advocates to explore how to prepare homeless individuals for a return to the workforce. The input of those who have transitioned from homelessness into the workforce should be considered, along with the perspective of small business owners searching for employees. The appropriate support should then be provided to homeless providers to train their clients for specific jobs and professions.  

We are asking elected officials to make a robust investment into job training for those battling back against homelessness. This can help provide long-term economic security to individuals and families in homeless facilities.

Additionally, this will supplement our workforce, foster economic development, stabilize families and communities, and create revenue for Chicago and our state. There has never been a more important time to get those struggling with homelessness off the street, on their feet, and back to work.  

Neli Vazquez Rowland is president of A Safe Haven Foundation in Chicago. Elliot Richardson is president of the Small Business Advocacy Council in Chicago.

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