Fed shutdown forces Gowanus group to cancel job-training program for low-income locals

Fed shutdown forces Gowanus group to cancel job-training program for low-income locals
Rebuilding Together

High-school graduates enrolled in a local do-good group’s technical-education program geared to land them construction jobs cannot begin their classes until President Trump decides to reopen the government and end its longest shutdown in American history.

Many of the young job seekers with traditional diplomas or GEDs hail from low-income communities and public-housing complexes, and counted on the free program to help them secure quality jobs that will allow them provide for their families, according to a leader of the Gowanus-based organization that receives funding from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development to run the seminar.

“The shutdown significantly impacts them and their plans,” said Sarah Desmond, the interim executive director of Rebuilding Together, which rehabilitates dilapidated properties on the brink of disrepair. “These students go onto actual real careers, earning money, and bringing it back to their communities and families.”

The students were supposed to start classes on Jan. 15, but the closure — now in its 27th day — forced the do-gooders to cancel the six-week program indefinitely until the federal housing agency is fully back up and running.

The agency funds the technical training through a grant that normally allows Rebuilding Together leaders to host six of the programs a year, according to Desmond, who said that in 2018 the group trained 125 students — about 80 percent of which came from Brooklyn, with more than half hailing from Coney Island.

And as long as the Commander-in-Chief refuses to budge on erecting his beloved wall at the United States–Mexico border, funding for the current class, and all subsequent seminars, remains in limbo — leaving the locals eager to enter the construction workforce without a way to get the training they need to do so, Desmond said.

“All approvals for any classes have been put on hold for this,” she said. “As of right now we can’t go forward, because our funding is on hold.”

But when the government reopens, those students who expected to start their training this week will be prioritized for the next session, according to Desmond.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@schnepsmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.