FREEPORT (WIFR) -- According to ReThink, public housing provides homes to more than 2 million people in the United States and it doesn't always get the best reputation. That's why the Freeport Housing Authority is trying to change that perception by helping families with more than just shelter.
John Liburd is very familiar with the computers at the Freeport Housing Authority. In fact he was searching for a new job on one of those computers last year, when he was told about the Workforce Development Institute. Liburd says the program, which enforces soft skills like responsibility, helped him get a better job working with the developmentally disabled.
"One of the main things is maintaining a positive attitude while at work because there can be stressful situations dealing with that community," said Liburd, who is also an FHA resident.
FHA Executive Director Larry Williams helped create the program a year ago.
Williams said, "We want to be able to brand our community as a workforce-ready community and the soft skills are a major issue all across the country. When I talk to employers, the first thing they say is attitude and attendance."
The Freeport Housing Authority is working on a junior Workforce Development Institute to teach kids those soft skills while they're young. The class is for students in second through 8th grade.
"The goal is actually prevention so I thought if we start teaching the soft skills at a younger age, then they'll basically grow up practicing these skills, thus make them more successful in the future," explains Williams.
The junior WDI course begins in June and will likely be held during the day. The exact date and times are still being discussed. FHA will then work with local school districts once school starts in the Fall, to hold the class after school.
The adult program has graduated 32 students, about 29 of those grads are employed. And FHA is expanding the program to hopefully graduate 90 people a year.
If you're interested in applying for the program, contact the Freeport Housing Authority at 815-232-4171. To learn more about changing the perception of public housing, click on the attached link.
For more on the ReThink: Why Housing Matters initiative, click on the attached links.