America Works Receives New Department of Labor Grant to Aid Homeless Veterans

July 1, 2009

Chief Executive Officer Dr. Lee Bowes and Founder Peter Cove of America WorksDid you know there are more than one-quarter of a million U.S. military veterans living in New York City?

That’s right. Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Office of Veterans Affairs (MOVA) estimates that there are about 240,000 U.S. veterans in the five boroughs of NYC.

And while MOVA doesn’t track how many of those men and women are homeless or living in shelters, anecdotal evidence leads us to believe it’s a significant number.

That’s why we’re pleased to announce that one of our affiliated companies has received a grant under the U.S. Department of Labor’s Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program (HVRP) to provide NYC’s homeless veterans with job training and placement.

The purpose of HVRP is to reintegrate homeless veterans into the workforce while addressing the complex problems they face. Grants were made to a variety of state and local organizations nationwide. HVRP was initially authorized in July 1987, and was re-authorized under the Homeless Veterans Comprehensive Assistance Act of 2001. For more details about the program, please click here: http://www.dol.gov/vets/programs/fact/Homeless_veterans_fs04.htm

This will actually be the second program that America Works is going to offer local veterans. Since January 2009, we’ve operated a pilot program specifically for U.S. veterans who receive food stamps. We operate under contract with funding from MOVA and the NYC Human Resources Administration.

In case you’re not familiar with our mission, let us explain. America Works of New York, Inc. is a Manhattan-based company with a conscience. Founded 25 years ago by social entrepreneur Peter Cove, it provides intensive, personalized employment services to hard-to-place populations including the homeless, criminal offenders, and welfare and food stamp recipients. Our chief executive officer is Dr. Lee Bowes.

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Honor America’s Newest Veterans With Jobs

June 15, 2009

When armed conflicts began in Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003, America promised that those serving in battle would not be neglected as were those who served in Vietnam two generations ago. Sadly, limited social services and shoddy treatment rule as thousands of returning members of the military are discarded after leaving active duty. Even after the parades of Memorial Day fade away, America should remember how much it owes to its service members and reward them for their selflessness by helping them secure jobs in addition to other benefits.

While it may appear counter-intuitive to propose a job creation program for veterans while the economy is in a deep recession, the federal stimulus package offers a solution. Governors may set aside a portion of the discretionary funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to fund a job placement program for specialized populations including disabled veterans and recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), commonly known as welfare, under the Workforce Investment Act (WIA).

About 7.1 million people have served in the Gulf War since 2001, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs, of which 52% are with the Reserve or National Guard and 48% are on active duty. In total, there are about 23.8 million living U.S. veterans who served during both war and peacetime.

Unfortunately, the number of veterans moving into the ranks of the unemployed is growing. There were 28,435 newly discharged veterans claiming unemployment insurance benefits for the week ending May 16, an increase of 181% over the prior year, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

While there has been no national study of employment trends among newly returning veterans, a remarkable study conducted by Central Connecticut State University and the Connecticut Department of Veterans’ Affairs revealed that employers may be reluctant to hire veterans because of misconceptions about their disabilities.

One way to honor our veterans is to provide them with jobs in addition to other benefits. In fact, employment might well be the best and most effective means of aiding people as they re-enter the civilian workforce.

Since January 2009, America Works has operated a unique job placement program for veterans receiving food stamps with funding from the Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Office of Veterans Affairs and the New York City Human Resources Administration. In addition to aiding veterans, this program simultaneously reduces their reliance on New York’s overburdened social services. 

America Works prepares them for the job market (providing them with targeted training as well as a resume, appropriate clothing, and car fare), then sends them out on appropriately selected job interviews. This program is open to newly returning vets as well as those who served at any other time in the past. 

Based on our experience with Vietnam veterans, we know that many people who leave active duty disappear from the public’s view only to end up unemployed and homeless. Is not one measure of a country’s worth its treatment of those who have served, suffered, and survived their ordeals?

We should live by the words of Pres. John F. Kennedy, who said, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”


From Jail To A Job

April 8, 2009

Originally Printed In The NY Post

April 8, 2009

By Peter Cove

THE Legislature’s revamping of the Rockefeller drug laws will quickly lead to retrials — and likely to freedom — for thousands of drug criminals. Many criminal-justice experts warn of a substantial uptick in crime.

But there’s a way to minimize this. The answer lies with Mayors Bloomberg in New York City, Cory Booker in Newark and Ronald Dellums in Oakland through their Measure Y program.

The answer is not the “shovel ready” but failed programs of the past: The standard combination of parole and various social and drug-treatment programs has long produced a 70 percent re-incarceration rate within three years after release.

What makes the mayors’ re-entry program successful?

Look at the one America Works has been operating for the past three years. Upon release from prison, the formerly incarcerated are referred to America Works for direct employment. We provide them with a resume and appropriate clothing (and car fare) — and then send them straight out on job interviews.

After a month in the program, most individuals get hired. The companies get good workers, the workers get good jobs — and the government gets reduced costs for criminal justice.

In these innovative programs’ first year of operation in Oakland, for instance, the recidivism rate is less than 6 percent — when 39 percent of California prisoners released each year return to prison.

Now, it costs California $47,000 a year to house one prisoner — versus a one-time fee of only $4,000 to get a person a job, which is paid only when they keep the job for six months.

Consider: If 20,000 prisoners violate their parole and get sent back to prison, each, it would cost the state $940 million to house them for a year. However, if every released prisoner were put into this program costing only $80 million, California would save about $860 million the first year — all the cash it would have spent to keep the prisoner in jail for the rest of his sentence. The total savings add up to about $3.1 billion.

These programs succeed because felons leaving jail or just on probation are “captured” immediately and enrolled in activities that both prepare them for work and keep them off the streets. These work strategies are effective, and benefit society because they get the people into work very quickly, while employing social services to assist in retention and success. As with welfare reform, “work first” works best.

Prison-to-work programs can help cut New York’s recidivism rate while reducing public costs, by helping people returning home to lead productive and law-abiding lives.

This is a responsible, proven strategy to deal with newly released prisoners. In this time of fiscal crisis, will lawmakers take heed? Will they show the wisdom to match their rethinking of the drug laws with rethinking of rehabilitation?

All they need to do is look to the cities with the answers.

Peter Cove founded America Works, a com pany that gets ex-offenders and other hard-to- place workers jobs.