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The Chicago City Council today approved a proposal introduced by Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and the Department of Housing (DOH) to invest $1 million to support paid job training and wraparound services for 50 returning residents transitioning back into society. As part of the ordinance introduced last month, the funding will support the Inner-City Muslim Action Network’s (IMAN) Green ReEntry program, which provides paid construction training and apprenticeship programs to returning Chicago residents. Through the Green ReEntry program, returning residents will rebuild homes and apartment buildings across Chicago.
The new funding will support stipends for participants, payroll for staff members, including case managers, instructors, and therapists, and other administrative costs.
“Creating a Chicago that is more safe, more fair and more prosperous happens with holistic programs like this that provide returning residents with the support and paid opportunities they deserve to truly create positive impacts in their lives and their surrounding community,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “These investments are just one part of much broader, ground-up investment strategy aimed at unlocking the full potential of our residents – regardless of their background.”
Designed to support returning residents facing barriers to employment and community reintegration, the program will provide returning residents with both 12-month apprenticeships and 14-week-long training in skilled trades including HVAC, electrical, carpentry, and production welding, all while being paid. As part of the program, participants will also receive life skills training, case management, and job placement assistance in addition to behavioral therapy supports through the IMAN Community Health Center in Chicago Lawn.
“Through these investments, we can further help make a positive impact for returning residents who are willing to rebuild not only their own lives but their community as well,” said DOH Commissioner Marisa Novara. “With this program, participants are not only receiving paid job training in the trades but also the skills and supports they need to be successful in their everyday lives.
” Serving communities in Chicago Lawn, West Englewood and Englewood, IMAN has operated since 1997, providing a range of services, including job training for formerly incarcerated individuals, arts and culture projects, and health and counseling centers. IMAN is certified by the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) and offers training in the latest industryrecognized curriculum and certifications for returning residents seeking community reintegration. Based on its success in Chicago, the organization’s Green ReEntry program has expanded across the nation to cities like Atlanta and Baltimore.
"There could be no more urgent time than now to do all we can to provide returning citizens and young people caught up in the cycle of violence with real opportunities to be dynamic assets in the community and that's exactly what this investment with IMAN's Green ReEntry seeks to do,” said Rami Nashashibi, Executive Director, InnerCity Muslim Action Network.
The City’s investment in the Green ReEntry program builds on Mayor Lightfoot’s holistic public safety strategy to provide therapy, jobs, and support services for individuals from communities that have been adversely impacted by violence, especially returning residents at highest risk of recidivism. Through these new investments, returning residents will not only receive paid job opportunities, but also the life skills and construction training to help reshape and rebuild communities across the city.
“Providing paid job training opportunities to our most vulnerable residents is the first step on a pathway to a successful career,” said 16th Ward Alderman Stephanie D. Coleman. “Through programs like these and community organizations like the Inner-City Muslim Action Network, we are lowering unemployment and poverty in our communities by ensuring returning residents have the invaluable skills and trades they need to build successful lives.”
The ordinance is supported by $1 million in funding from DOH’s Affordable Housing Opportunity Fund, which is used to support local programming that provides affordable housing opportunities across Chicago.
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