Title V of the McKinney-Vento Act(the “Homeless Assistance Act”) provides suitable surplus Federal properties for use to assist homeless persons. It was this provision that resulted in the creation of the Alameda Point Collaborative out of the closure of the Alameda Naval Air Station. The accommodation process included development of a plan, review and feedback by the community and negotiations with the City, acting as ARRA. The result was a number of agreements that laid out the amount of housing, commercial properties and other uses that would be granted for a 59 year period. One key agreement was the setting of a first source hiring agreement that has a goal (not a mandate, but a goal) of placing homeless and low-income residents into 15% of all new jobs at Alameda Point. Along with the potential opportunities of this agreement, comes responsibilities for APC to ensure that residents have or can be trained in the skills and qualifications required to effectively complete and hold jobs.
The rationale for the hiring goal is obvious. Providing economic opportunity is the best way to move someone from homelessness to self sufficiency. Unfortunately, in the intervening decade since the creation of APC, this dream, like so many other visions for the Point has been largely unfulfilled, due not so much to companies not hiring, but more to the lack of any new job creation occurring at the Point. Many companies that are or have been out here have stepped up. For example the Bladium, the Hornet and Revolution Foods have all employed APC residents. The largest employer of APC residents so far has been APC itself. Approximately 15 residents are employed at any given time.
Some recent developments may help begin to turn the tide on economic development. APC was recently awarded $625,000 by the Federal Government to expand economic development for residents. Our goal is to create 25 new jobs over the next 3 years through activities at APC and in partnership with other organizations and companies. This pilot project will provide us the systems and experience we need so that when the redevelopment of Alameda Point finally begins our residents will be ready to take advantage of the economic opportunities being made available.
Doug Biggs is the Executive Director of the Alameda Point Collaborative.