Housing holds jobs opportunity

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development named the Houma-Terrebonne Housing Authority to share in a national $60 million allocation for the hire of a service coordinator to work at getting Section 8 residents, in the Housing Choice Voucher Family Self-Sufficiency program, into the workforce. The HTHA share of this federal fund is $43,478.

Federal money provides local housing authorities with salaries for service coordinators. The coordinators have the job of linking program participants with schools, businesses and agencies to develop skills and obtain jobs that pay a living wage. Coordinators in these positions are commissioned to set participants on a path to self-sufficiency.

Participants in the HCVFSS program sign contracts and are required, as heads of households, to secure employment and get off welfare by the completion of a five-year term.

In most instances, local employment, job training and social service organizations link with the housing authority to provide participants with job training, counseling, child care, transportation, homeownership counseling and job placement.

When a participant successfully completed the HCVFSS contract, that person receives escrow funds that can be used for any purpose including down payment on a home, paying educational expenses, starting a business or paying back debt.

We support the idea of offering opportunities for people to improve their living conditions and becoming gainfully employed. We are glad to see HUD providing tools to get people off welfare and into a world of self-sufficiency. We welcome the opportunity to help those in need invest themselves in their futures.

We are concerned about the frequency of government-backed programs becoming nothing more than opportunities for paper-shuffling bureaucrats to maintain offices that do little more than perpetuate justification for their own existence, while doing little to actually help the public.

We also question how many Section 8 residents will ignore the prospective assistance and choose to continue living off the taxpayer.

We call on HTHA Director Wayne Thibodeaux to not let that happen in Terrebonne Parish. We urge him to not allow this opportunity to benefit the community as a whole just become just another government office that offers few concrete public results.

According to a HUD study, individuals who have previously participated in the HCVFSS program fare better than those that do not participate. We look forward to reporting the success stories of this program.