September 24, 1999

Work to Be Done:
Designing Publicly-Funded Jobs To Meet Community Needs

by Clifford M. Johnson and Alex Goldenberg

A central premise of public job creation initiatives is that there is useful work to be done in every community. When public funds are used to create wage-paying jobs in public or nonprofit agencies, the possibilities for undertaking useful work span fields as diverse as child care, after-school care, construction, education, environmental preservation, land management, health and social services, recreation, public works, and public safety. No single set of work assignments or projects will make sense in every community. In each of these areas and many others, however, state and local policymakers and community groups can identify large numbers of publicly-funded jobs that would respond to pressing community needs.

Those engaged in the design of public job creation initiatives should think broadly and creatively about the work to be done in their state or community. Because employability gains for participants are a key criteria by which the success of such initiatives are judged, work assignments must be carefully structured to promote work readiness and combined in many instances with education or training to foster skills development. Yet the creation of publicly-funded jobs also offers other opportunities. The work performed by participants in these initiatives can fill gaps in public services, contribute to valuable projects that have been shelved or postponed as a result of budget constraints, and bolster the capacity and effectiveness of nonprofit and public agencies that serve low-income communities. When fully and thoughtfully developed, public job creation programs yield a powerful "dual benefit": individual participants become more employable and productive while local communities gain a greater ability to address important unmet needs.

This dual focus on individual and community needs can pose significant implementation challenges and displacement risks. It also may be a key ingredient in any program's long-term success. Most Americans support the concept of providing work for those who cannot find jobs on their own, but this support evaporates when participants are engaged in tasks that appear to be unnecessary "make work." Designing work assignments and projects so that they respond in visible and tangible ways to community needs is one key way to avoid such charges and to build broad and durable support for public job creation programs.

Some current public job creation initiatives — including many state and local youth corps and YouthBuild programs now operating across the country — illustrate the potential impact of this attention to community needs. Youth corps typically organize participants into work crews that undertakes highly visible projects such as public land management, park restoration, flood control, recycling, and repairs or renovation of community facilities. YouthBuild programs usually focus more narrowly on the construction or rehabilitation of affordable housing in low-income communities. In both cases, however, these efforts garner broad-based support by combining education or training with visible work of value to the larger community.

Significant responses to community needs can be incorporated into any public job creation initiative, including welfare-to-work programs with a strong focus on workforce development. Even if visible activities or projects of the type found in youth corps and YouthBuild programs constitute only a modest fraction of total work sites, they can reinforce the message that public job creation programs benefit the larger community and thereby enhance public support for such efforts.


Identifying work that meets community needs

  • playground installation
  • park trail construction
  • community center renovation
  • boarding up of vacant houses
  • home weatherization
  • public housing repairs
  • restoration of historic buildings
  • lead paint abatement
  • accessibility for the handicapped


  • recycling projects
  • creation of community gardens
  • stream restoration
  • fish/wildlife habitat improvement
  • soil and water conservation
  • grazing land/wetlands preservation and remediation
  • community murals/urban
  • beautification
  • abandoned mine land reclamation
  • air quality monitoring
  • forestry aide
  • landscaping or nursery aide

Community services

  • building survey assistant
  • historic preservation aide
  • food or clothing bank staff
  • resource and referral aide
  • visitor/tourist information
  • emergency/disaster relief
  • community policing aide
  • office/clerical aide

Public health

  • home health care
  • public health insurance outreach
  • health/nutrition education
  • immunization outreach
  • rat abatement/rodent control
  • lead paint abatement
  • asbestos removal
  • school health aide
  • nursing home aide
  • laboratory aide
  • patient transportation driver

Education/Child Care

  • teacher's aide
  • enrichment (art/music) aide
  • recreation aide
  • tutor or mentor
  • aide for after-school programs
  • family resource aide
  • special project/field trip aide
  • bilingual staff assistant
  • nurse's aide
  • food service aide
  • custodian or landscaping assistant

A diverse array of tasks have been performed by participants in past and current job creation initiatives. The boxes scattered throughout this section list possibilities in five major areas: construction, public health, environment, education/child care, and community services. More detailed profiles of specific work projects and activities appear in the appendix. Each possibility raises its own challenges and opportunities. Some require substantial capital investments for tools or equipment. Others are appropriate only for participants with considerable skills or when overseen by trained supervisors. Nearly all have the potential to prepare individuals for unsubsidized jobs while supporting broader community-building or community development efforts, but the pathways into the regular labor market are not always obvious and sometimes must be carefully constructed in order to achieve lasting employment gains for participants.

Most public job creation programs develop work sites by asking public and nonprofit agencies to place participants in positions that supplement existing staffing patterns. Rather than taking on "new" work, participants typically are available to assist in the completion of current tasks or functions. This approach augments the capacity of host agencies, and in so doing it often responds to community needs. At the same time, because the work performed by participants is not identified with specific products, services, or goals, the impact of these individual placements often cannot be seen, readily recognized, or enjoyed by the larger community.

A more explicit focus on community needs requires increased attention by policymakers and program administrators to three key aspects of program development: long-term planning to lay the groundwork for more ambitious work projects and activities; sustained community involvement to ensure that these projects and activities respond to genuine needs; and identification of career pathways that are linked in meaningful ways to skills acquired through these projects and activities.

Creative efforts to meet community needs and promote community development while also building participants' skills take time to develop and implement. Particularly if participants are working in teams or on related activities in multiple sites, the supply of both participants and work projects must be monitored carefully and kept in reasonable balance. Use of work projects also requires that more attention be paid to job development and placement efforts that help participants move into unsubsidized employment, because individuals assigned to work crews are less likely to move directly into permanent jobs within a host agency. Finally, projects undertaken by work crews are more likely to involve investments in building materials, tools, and other supplies, raising costs and creating new logistical burdens. Well-developed, long-term planning structures are essential to address these issues.

Sustained community involvement in the development and selection of work projects should be a central element of this planning process. Well-publicized public meetings and aggressive outreach to a wide variety of community-based organizations — including neighborhood associations, churches, local community-building initiatives, community development corporations, and social service agencies — can serve as the cornerstone for attempts to engage residents in discussions about the work that needs to be done in their community. A broadly disseminated request for proposals (RFP) also can be very helpful as a way of encouraging innovation and careful planning, creating possibilities for meaningful public participation in the selection process. For example, a citizen review panel of business, civic, and community leaders could develop recommendations for new work projects and review proposals submitted by local groups for possible funding.

Entrepreneurial directors of youth corps already take similar steps, reaching out to many segments of the community and then trying to make a balanced assessment of the value of proposed job creation projects to both participants and the broader public.

For example, the Milwaukee Community Service Corps (MCSC) solicited input from more than 60 community groups while planning a recent project to clear vacant lots that posed safety hazards and threatened to depress local property values in low-income neighborhoods. These groups included the Milwaukee Housing Authority, Citizens for a Better Environment, Graffiti Taskforce, Campus Circle, Centro De Le Communidad Unida, the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, churches, and "block watch" groups. MCSC ties to neighborhood planning groups and local unions provided additional ways of keeping staff informed about community concerns and building public support for its work.

The third challenge in designing programs that address community needs is to ensure that the fundamental goal of imparting skills and valuable work experience to participants is preserved. Some work projects or activities that are highly visible and valued by the community (e.g., graffiti removal or litter abatement) may nonetheless be poor options for many programs because they are unlikely to increase participants' skills or lead to unsubsidized employment in the regular labor market. Other projects may demand skills beyond those typically found among program participants. Nonetheless, a combination of formal training activities, close supervision at work sites, and thoughtful delineation of work roles and responsibilities often can overcome these obstacles to success. Identifying potential career paths, documenting the skill requirements of employers in targeted industries, and then certifying the attainment of those skills by program graduates are particularly important steps to help participants move into unsubsidized employment.


Work teams and larger-scale work projects

Most public job creation initiatives develop individual placements in nonprofit or public agencies that agree to provide work sites for participants. This approach offers numerous advantages. Because participants work alongside regular employees, they are immediately exposed to workplace norms and expectations. Their placement within a host agency also may facilitate transitions into unsubsidized employment, particularly if similar jobs become available during their tenure at the agency or if supervisors and colleagues take an active role in helping them find new job opportunities. Finally, individual placements may lower the costs of creating publicly-funded jobs by utilizing employees at host agencies as work site supervisors rather than hiring staff to fill supervisory roles.

At the same time, the reasons to consider using work teams and/or larger-scale projects in public job creation initiatives are equally compelling. The advantages of these alternative approaches include:

These advantages were among the reasons why the City of Baltimore chose to use work projects extensively in its implementation of the Public Service Employment (PSE) program authorized under the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) of 1973. Faced with the challenge of placing thousands of jobless residents in publicly-funded jobs during the late 1970's, the Mayor's Office of Manpower Resources (MOMR) assembled an impressive portfolio of work projects for PSE participants. In many of these projects, MOMR provided additional funds for supervision, supplies, and equipment. Representatives of local unions were consulted regularly in the development of new work projects to minimize displacement risks and labor conflicts.

Work Projects in Baltimore's CETA PSE Program
  • Weatherization and lead paint abatement in the homes of elderly and low-income residents
  • School truancy/attendance monitors
  • Staffing of home-work centers in libraries with links to adult basic education programs
  • Home health care services
  • Beautification projects in urban parks and other public spaces
  • Minor lock and plumbing repairs in public housing units
  • Housing inspections to enforce local building codes
  • Tourism promotion
  • Support for local nonprofit theater

Baltimore's experience also illustrates that large-scale work projects do not always require that participants be organized into work crews or teams. Some of the MOMR projects relied upon participants who were individually placed in public or nonprofit agencies to carry out a common role or function. For example, PSE workers involved in a large-scale rodent control project received standardized training but were placed in public health department offices throughout the city and worked independently in their assigned neighborhoods to eliminate the conditions that allowed rodents to breed and multiply. Under this framework, the city reaped many of the benefits of work projects (e.g., measurable outcomes and significant scale) without the added costs and complexity of managing work crews or teams.

As noted earlier, the logistical challenges of organizing and implementing work projects for crews or teams can be quite substantial. Yet program administrators do not have to view decisions about work projects as "either-or" choices. Any large-scale public job creation effort is likely to include a mix of work projects and individual assignments within host agencies. Even an initiative relying primarily upon individual placements could use work projects in more limited ways to bolster their visibility and build community support. For example, a public job creation program could:

Collaborations with other programs that structure work for participants in crews or teams — including youth corps, AmeriCorps, and YouthBuild programs — may also enable public job creation initiatives to place some participants in work projects without devoting inordinate amounts of time, energy, and resources to this effort.


Links to community and economic development

One opportunity to generate the "dual benefit" described above can be found in efforts to link public job creation programs explicitly to broader economic development or community-building strategies. With planning and creativity, publicly-funded jobs can work in tandem with local economic development strategies to open the doors of opportunity for jobless residents in low-income communities. The public job creation programs of the 1930's and the 1970's demonstrated a few of the ways in which such linkages might be forged (see appendix), although the constraints today are likely to be greater because current initiatives are so narrowly focused on hard-to-employ welfare recipients. A full exploration of these opportunities should include an examination of potential linkages in three distinct areas: workforce development, enterprise development, and broader community development.

Workforce development. Efforts to improve participants' work readiness and job-related skills already are part of the core mission of most current public job creation programs. When successful, they improve prospects for local economic development even if no attempt is made to forge explicit linkages between these activities. More explicit strategies to capitalize on these workforce development investments may yield larger and more durable gains. For example, economic development officials that are trying to convince firms to locate or expand in low-income neighborhoods can highlight the role of public job creation programs in workforce preparation as evidence that an adequate supply of workers will be available. Publicly-funded jobs can serve as feeder mechanisms that prepare hard-to-employ individuals for customized or specialized occupational training, on-the-job training, and apprenticeship programs. "First source" hiring agreements also can be structured to ensure that firms receiving tax breaks, loans or other economic development funds make some of their jobs available to individuals who perform successfully in public job creation programs.

Enterprise development. Public job creation programs can be used to foster enterprise development in a variety of ways. Publicly-funded jobs can provide "incubators" for microenterprise development, allowing individuals to earn wages while working to develop business plans and get their new ventures off the ground. These jobs also can be structured to support and encourage the establishment of cooperatives (e.g., in child care, urban gardening, or crafts) or other support networks for self-employed residents. On a more ambitious scale, public job creation programs can pay wage costs incurred by "training enterprises" or "social enterprises" established by non-profit organizations, and income generated by those enterprises could be retained as a source of capital for new businesses.

Community development. Improvements in local infrastructure and facilities offer another way to link public job creation and community development. Well-designed work projects could help renovate storefronts, upgrade parks or other public spaces, redevelop "brownsfield" sites, and otherwise enhance the appearance and accessibility of local business districts. On a larger scale, public job creation initiatives can be viewed as part of broader strategies to ameliorate poverty and improve the quality of life in low-income communities. Recent community-building efforts show signs of yielding important gains in areas as diverse as infant mortality, community policing, and school improvement. Wages paid and work performed in publicly-funded jobs can provide additional resources for these efforts. To the extent that they are successful, these efforts can also yield other, less tangible benefits: they can impart a sense of progress, empower local residents, build trust within the community, and strengthen local organizations.

The key steps in forging such linkages are to identify strong partners already engaged in community or economic development and to bolster, whenever possible, the work of effective community-building initiatives already underway. A wide range of local institutions — including regional and municipal economic development agencies, community development banks, community development corporations (CDCs), and other community-based nonprofit groups — now are working in many low-income neighborhoods to stimulate the creation of new businesses, expand private-sector employment, and strengthen the social and economic infrastructure. Community partnerships are pursuing similar goals in federally-designated Empowerment Zones and Enterprise Communities across the country.


Cautions About Displacement Risks

The creation of publicly-funded jobs, particularly on a large scale, inevitably poses risks that these jobs will result in the displacement of regular employees. A central challenge in the development and implementation of any public job creation initiative is to minimize these risks. Effective protections against displacement are necessary both to sustain political support and to maximize their impact. Support for publicly-funded jobs may evaporate quickly if they are seen as leading to job losses among permanent workers. In addition, the program's achievements — both in increasing the overall supply of jobs and in boosting the job prospects of low-skilled individuals — are seriously undermined if they result in widespread displacement of workers who may be no more skilled or securely attached to the labor market than those participating in the program.

Attempts to design public job creation programs that respond to community needs can both aggravate and ease these displacement concerns. On the one hand, work projects that are perceived as "real work" and address pressing needs heighten the risk that public job creation participants will engage in activities that are being, have been, or should be done by regular employees. On the other hand, a more explicit and inclusive process for selecting work projects that meet established criteria can help ensure that participants are engaged in tasks that would not otherwise be undertaken, thereby minimizing displacement and reassure labor representatives that the interests of other workers will be protected.

The specific nature of displacement concerns varies widely across communities. Improvements in recreational facilities or services, for example, may respond to a pressing need in one community without presenting any significant threat of displacement, while in another community such projects may pose serious risks to current workers. This variation in local conditions and circumstances suggests that a local review board or project planning committee is essential to identify and avoid potential displacement problems. A broad cross-section of the community should be involved in this group, including key representatives of organized labor. Its work should be reinforced by formal mechanisms for review of and concurrence with proposed work projects by appropriate union officials when the regular employees at a work site are part of a bargaining unit. These steps for prior review and consultation appear to have effective in youth corps and other programs in responding to displacement concerns.



One of the most important decisions made in a public job creation program is what types of work participants will undertake in their community. The choice of roles to be filled and tasks to be performed is crucial because it will largely determine what the public sees. Will publicly-funded jobs provide "make work" or "real work"? Does the work performed by participants benefit the broader community? The image of any public job creation initiative will be shaped at least in part by the answers to these questions.

Close supervision of participants can ensure that their work experience reflects the demands and expectations of the regular labor market. A strong emphasis on training and skill development also can help persuade the public that it is getting a good return on its investment. Yet a key part of creating "real work" in nonprofit and public agencies ultimately lies in making sure that publicly-funded jobs respond to community needs — that the work performed by participants has a visible impact in the community and addresses real concerns articulated by local groups or residents.

This is not an easy task. It renders the challenges of designing and implementing public job creation programs more complex. It requires longer-term planning and more extensive outreach to the local communities within which programs operate. In some instances, it also may raise costs by necessitating additional expenditures for supervision, tools, equipment, or materials.

At the same time, the payoffs for care and creativity when selecting the work to be done in public job creation programs can be large. To the extent that the public is convinced that publicly-funded jobs produce a double benefit — useful skills and work experience for participants as well as needed help for local communities — its support for such initiatives will grow. This broad-based public support is one key to ensuring that the next generation of public job creation programs is more durable and successful than the last.



Publicly-Funded Work in Past Job Creation Programs

Public job creation is hardly a new concept, but our nation's experience with this employment strategy is rather limited. Large-scale federal efforts to create publicly-funded jobs have been mounted only on a handful of occasions since the 1930's during periods of high and rising joblessness. These efforts were envisioned primarily as a way to put the unemployed back to work quickly and to provide needed economic stimulus during periods of recession or depression.

Despite the difficulty of implementing high-quality work projects under the intense time pressures of a countercyclical jobs program, some past efforts have made major contributions to the communities in which they operated. Two of the oldest and most ambitious federal job creation initiatives — the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) — succeeded in launching thousands of work projects that responded in highly visible ways to community needs. For example, the work funded by the WPA led to the building or reconstruction of 617,000 miles of new roads, 124,000 bridges and viaducts, and 35,000 buildings. A similarly impressive array of improvements in national and state parks and other public lands were made through the work of the CCC.

These accomplishments did not fully insulate Depression-era work programs from public criticism or even periodic ridicule. Their lasting contributions to communities were sufficiently clear and tangible, however, that they were able to weather these attacks and survive until the onset of World War II, when unemployment rates fell sharply. The useful work performed by WPA and CCC participants is in large part responsible for their enduring legacy as effective government initiatives undertaken during a time of great need.

After the dismantling of the WPA and CCC, nearly three decades passed before the federal government launched another public job creation initiative. Congress established the modest Public Employment Program in 1971 and then authorized the much larger Public Service Employment (PSE) programs as part of the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) of 1973. In contrast to the generally positive image of the Depression-era work programs, the CETA PSE programs are often remembered as rife with waste, fraud, and abuse. Since they were abolished by President Reagan in 1981, no federal funding has been available explicitly for this purpose.

The portrayal of CETA as wasteful and ineffective is at odds with much of the research on PSE programs. Several evaluations of PSE found that the great majority of participants were engaged in useful work and deemed by their supervisors to be nearly as productive as other workers in similar positions. Yet it also seems clear that the CETA PSE programs were less successful than the WPA and CCC in convincing the public that they were responding to pressing community needs. Most PSE workers were placed in city, county, or nonprofit agencies where their contributions (whether large or small) were seldom visible or apparent. PSE administrators were hampered in their attempts to develop innovative projects and high-quality work assignments by frequent changes in CETA eligibility requirements and other program rules. Some CETA administrators launched creative projects and highlighted the community benefits they generated, but many others ended up focusing only on the benefits that accrued to the workers themselves and some used the program simply to ease budget pressures on local agencies.

During the late 1970's, at least a handful of state and local governments used their CETA PSE programs to bolster local economic development initiatives. Some of these projects took advantage of CETA's broad eligibility criteria (at least prior to legislative revisions in 1978) by placing relatively well-educated PSE participants in nonprofit groups to lead community-based planning efforts, develop cooperatives, and oversee new economic development activities. For example, the state of Massachusetts encouraged many communities to forge links between their PSE programs and local economic development efforts. PSE workers cleaned up and repaired public areas in neighborhood business districts, including repairs to sidewalks and edge stones, laying of brick sidewalks, and tree plantings. Some PSE workers also improved storefront facades in such districts or tackled other modest rehabilitation projects as part of "shopsteading" programs in which vacant storefronts were purchased, renovated, and then leased or sold to new businesses. The most ambitious projects included the rehabilitation of a large mill for use as a multi-tenant manufacturing facility and the restoration of clam beds in coastal communities.

Unfortunately, these innovations were not sufficiently widespread to overcome perceptions of the CETA PSE program as wasteful or dominated by "make work." It also is likely that, even if the work performed by CETA PSE participants had been more visible, the backlash against "big government" that culminated with the 1980 elections would have made public job creation programs an obvious target for elimination by the Reagan administration. Nonetheless, a greater emphasis on work projects that address pressing community needs might have made it more difficult for critics to build a case for their dismantlement, providing a rallying point around which to build public support for their continuation.



Examples of Creative Work Projects

Health Insurance Outreach and Enrollment
Sacramento, California

Structure of the Program:

Under a pilot program developed by the Sacramento Valley Organizing Community (SVOC), 30 welfare recipients will be hired and trained to seek out and enroll eligible families in California's Healthy Families program (the state's version of the new federal Child Health Insurance Program for children in near-poor families.) While employed for up to six months, participants will also receive specially-designed clerical training through a local community college. SVOC will place successful participants in claims processing or billing positions in private health insurance companies and area hospitals with which SVOC has negotiated hiring agreements.

Challenges to Implementation:

Some aspects of the planned outreach and enrollment work will require substantial supervision and may demand literacy skills that some welfare recipients do will not possess. Participants also will be expected to attend community college classes while working on a part-time basis. Finally, strong collaborative relationships between SVOC, the Sacramento County Department of Human Assistance, Los Rios Community College, and other agencies will be needed to implement the model effectively.

Community Needs the Project Addresses:

In Sacramento County, roughly 30 percent of the population have no health insurance. While an estimated 60,000 children residing in the county are eligible for the state's new Healthy Families program, only 600 children had been enrolled by the beginning of 1999. Outreach efforts have been particularly weak in Latino and African-American communities within the county. SVOC's pilot program would begin to fill these gaps in health insurance outreach and enrollment, thereby increasing access to essential health care for children in low-income families.

For more information, contact:

Evelyn Tisdale-Koroma
Sacramento Valley Organizing Community
3263 1st Avenue
Sacramento, CA 95817-1916
Ph: (916) 457-0245 x7


Deconstructing Buildings: Constructing Opportunities
Oakland, California

Structure of the Program:

The Youth Employment Partnership, a nonprofit organization in Oakland, California, is operating a welfare-to-work program that employs 18- to 29-year-olds to dismantle six abandoned buildings at the Fleet Industrial Supply Center in the Port of Oakland. Participants are paid at a rate of between $6 and $9 per hour for deconstruction work, and they also receive stipends for participating in educational activities provided in conjunction with Laney Community College. The deconstruction work enables YEP to teach key construction skills and techniques, while also providing a context for participants to develop appropriate work attitudes and behaviors. YEP offers job placement assistance and a range of supportive services (e.g., child care, transportation passes, medical services, and psychological counseling) to participants. Post-employment services continue for 18 months after placement in unsubsidized jobs.

Challenges to Implementation:

Deconstruction projects are complex undertakings that require substantial investments in tools, equipment, and skilled supervision. The work is physically demanding, and participants must be trained carefully to ensure safety at the work site. While the sale of salvaged building materials has obvious appeal, considerable training and managerial skill are needed to limit damage to this material, properly identify that portion which can be salvaged, and prepare it for sale as recycled lumber.

Community Needs the Project Addresses:

The removal of abandoned structures from this area of the Port of Oakland will reclaim prime real estate with easy access to a port and clear the way for new development. The sale of salvaged materials helps to protect the environment, and the training of participants addresses a serious labor shortage in the area's construction industry — more than 3,500 construction jobs were created in the region in just the past year alone.

For more information, contact:

Chris Thomas
Youth Employment Partnership
1411 Fruitvale Avenue
Oakland, CA 94601
Ph: (510) 533-3447


Conservation Corps Green SPACE Initiative
Los Angeles, California

Structure of the Program:

The Green SPACE (Sustainable Public Areas for Community Enhancement) program was developed by the Los Angeles Conservation Corps (LACC), an urban youth corps providing work and education opportunities for teenagers and young adults. The process begins with the selection of a neighborhood in which residents have expressed their willingness to assume responsibility for maintaining a public green. At the request of LACC, the City of Los Angeles closes off the selected alley so that a team of twelve corpsmembers can removes debris, hazardous waste, and useless dirt. This crew then prepares raised beds for gardens, plants trees, lays sod, installs irrigation, and completes landscaping. LACC workshops train local residents in basic maintenance, including gardening, pruning, mowing, fertilizing, and crop rotation. All parks have gardens and grassy areas; some also include grills and outdoor furniture.

Challenges to Implementation:

Creating an effective alley conversion program requires a substantial and continuing commitment from area residents. Participants have to acquire both "hard skills" (e.g., gardening, waste removal, and furniture assembly) as well as "soft skills" (e.g., organizing and leading community meetings and workshops). The cooperation of city agencies is needed to close alleys, and some tools and equipment are required.

Community Needs the Project Addresses:

Blighted alleys in Los Angeles have proven quite troublesome. They become dumping grounds for trash and hazardous waste as well as centers of activity for prostitutes and drug dealers. The city spends an estimated $5 million per year clearing and fixing alleys, though cleaning efforts rarely have a lasting effect. Alley conversion was recognized as a more permanent way to create clean and attractive space, thereby helping to raise property values, encourage development, and reduce illicit activities.

For more information, contact:

Phil Matero
Los Angeles Conservation Corps
2824 South Main Street
Los Angeles, CA 90007
Ph: (213) 749-3601

Head Start Teachers' Assistants
Oroville, WA

Structure of the Program:

Career Path Services, a nonprofit organization with extensive experience in employment and training issues, is the local contractor in Spokane, Washington for the state's Community Jobs (CJ) program. As part of this statewide effort to move hard-to-employ welfare recipients into unsubsidized jobs, Career Path Services is placing CJ participants in Head Start centers as teachers' assistants for up to nine months. In these positions, assistants spend more than half of their time working directly with children, while the remainder of their time is spent training for certification as a Head Start teacher. Career Path Services provides work clothes, transportation to work, and case management services to promote access to other needed assistance. Child care and health insurance are provided through the local welfare office.

Challenges to Implementation:

Because work in Head Start programs involves constant personal contact with children, participants must have the patience and enthusiasm necessary to succeed in an educational environment. Before they are placed in Head Start centers, participants also must be trained in the nutrition education component of the program. Finally, participants can only advance into permanent staff positions if they obtain the necessary certification, a hurdle which some will find difficult to overcome.

Community Needs the Project Addresses:

Teachers' assistants help provide Head Start children in a rural area with the care and preparation they need to begin school. While improving the quality of Head Start services, the wages paid to CJ participants also helps to satisfy matching requirements associated with Head Start funding. Twenty-five percent of Head Start funds must be matched by volunteer staff or funds from the community. Because the Community Jobs program is funded by the state, CJ wages count toward this requirement.

For more information, contact:

Bonita Duncan, Employment Associate
Omak Branch of Career Path Services
P.O. Box 3839
Omak, WA 98841
Ph: (509) 826-2417

Urban Rat Abatement Program
Baltimore, Maryland

Structure of the Program:

Baltimore Civic Works, an urban youth corps, undertook a year-long project designed to eliminate rats from a twenty-block area in the Highlandtown section of East Baltimore. A team of eight corpsmembers (ages 17-25) implemented a comprehensive strategy that relied upon public education, neighborhood cleanup, and follow-up inspections. Participants taught local residents, businesses, and community groups effective techniques for discouraging rats from living in the area. Literature was posted listing foods that rats eat, types of areas at risk, and how to keep neighborhoods clean. The team then worked to clean alleys, lots, streets, and sidewalks and to remove trash that had fallen from sanitation trucks. Finally, corpsmembers conducted more than 2,000 inspections, making sure that residential buildings and businesses were in compliance with existing sanitation codes. Before reporting infractions, they met with violators and discussed ways that they could comply with the law. In cases where corpsmembers found clean property, they personally stopped to thank the owner.

Challenges to Implementation:

Implementing the rat abatement program required a group of participants willing to work in dirty and unsanitary conditions. Corpsmembers needed strong communication skills to educate and interact with community residents. A permanent field supervisor and appropriate clothing for participants also were essential.

Community Needs the Project Addresses:

Baltimore City has a serious rat infestation problem. Rats have the potential to cause illness and respiratory problems and they pose a particular threat to children. Highlandtown residents needed to learn to take steps to limit the spread of rats. Public education, neighborhood cleanup, and inspection represented a safe and constructive way for corpsmembers to engage the community in neighborhood improvement efforts.

For more information, contact:

Mike Primm
Baltimore Civic Works
2701 St. Lo Drive
Baltimore, MD 21213
Ph: (410) 366-8533