Cobb Leaders To Address Economic Gap with Local Charity

Story by Angelia Pressley

The many redevelopment projects in Cobb County’s fourth district indicate South Cobb is on the verge of a boom, and opportunities for attracting businesses and developers depend on educated and skilled workers in construction and other areas.

To address the economic gaps among the area’s population for employment, Chamber of Commerce President & CEO David Connell and District Four Commissioner Lisa Cupid will be guest speakers during the Family Life Restoration Center (FLRC) for Whole Families Whole Communities Reveal on Thursday, March 17, 2016 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. The Organization will introduce soft skills training, workforce development and affordable housing as new initiatives–in companion with its pantry, clothing and counseling services.

According to The Urban Institute, “Every 100 extremely low-income (ELI) renter households in the country, there are only 29 affordable and available rental units. In Cobb County the number is 2.8 units for every 100 renters. Extremely low-income households—a definition used by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)—earn 30 percent of area median income or less. Depending on the area of the country, for a family of four, this translates into incomes of less than $7,450 to $33,300. Cobb County has the largest gap between housing units available and citizens who need affordable housing in the United States.” (McDonald and Poethig, 2014).

In addition, Census Bureau reports for the 2015 1st Quarter employment of Cobb County reveal an overwhelming disparity between residents. The graph below shows job numbers according to race in the County. Whites had 39, 421 jobs, blacks had 12,460, other groups accounted for 697 jobs. Education and training are factors in this difference, and a second illustration shows the impact of education to employment.
(U. S. Census Bureau Graph, 2016)

 

The clients Family Life Restoration Center serves correlates with these statistics. They supply an average of 200 families per week with food and clothing, and many of those families are without a home and adequate employment. Founders Luther and Angie Washington’s plans are to implement soft skills training for job sustainability and woodworking to teach construction to underemployed and unemployed residents of the County. Using a hammer, nail and saw are the basics for entry level jobs in construction. Workers can then move to higher positions, based on company opportunities. Furthermore, interpersonal relations help them sustain employment long term. The non-profit also will serve as a pipeline to recruit police officers.

Incidentally, after 47 percent Cobb residents, 23 percent of the Center’s patrons are Atlanta residents. Another 18 percent of this population is homeless and Douglas and DeKalb County residents make up seven and two percent of the clientele. When necessary, FLRC will be able to assist some in the community with transitional housing through the build out of a 19-bed shelter and rental property they own.

While only 14.06 percent of South Cobb represents what might be termed the working poor, it is enough to warrant initiatives like the ones at Family Life Restoration. A 2015 survey by the South Cobb Redevelopment Authority (SCRA) revealed more residents earn $100,000 – 199,000 (37.79 percent), than those making $50,000 – $99,000 (31 percent), followed by $25,000 – $49,000 (14.06 percent).

Doug Stoner, Chairman of the SCRA says the challenge lies with school administrators’ ability adapt to current times and careers in the local economy. “We have 19th century industrial approach in the 21st century, where there are viable careers, such as a Diabetes Educator. It doesn’t require a four-year degree, but people are not being trained for it.” Family Life he says is an example of private and public putting their heads together for a solution. WellStar Cobb Hospital is one such partner and offers free medical screenings at the Center for residents served by the organization.

The Cobb Chamber of Commerce has developed an aggressive approach to workforce development. President & CEO David Connell remarks, “There is gap between the unemployed and available employment, and our focus is to close this gap. Not only that jobs can save the lives of people in poverty and prevent many social ills. The family structure cannot survive without bringing income into the home, and family is very important.”

 

References:
MacDonald, G. and Poethig, E. C. (3 March, 2014). America’s Rental Housing Crises. The Urban Institute. Retrieved from http://www.urban.org/urban-wire/weve-mapped-americas-rental-housing-crisis
Gelman Libraries. (2016) U.S. Census Bureau Website. Center for Economic Studies, LEHD. (2016). QWIEXPLORER Report of Cobb County Employment Statistics. Retrieved from http://qwiexplorer.ces.census.gov/#x=0&g=0

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. (2016) The Economics Daily, Educational attainment and occupation groups by race and ethnicity in 2014. Retrieved from http://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2015/educational-attainment-and-occupation-groups-by-race-and-ethnicity-in-2014.htm

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