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With builders, developers, and other city organizations facing a tight labor pool, companies are using commercial projects to provide local city residents with careers in construction. New York Time’s Joe Gose reports they’re making an effort to recruit men and women from challenged neighborhoods, including former inmates, and using training programs to teach them the way of the job. The goal is to provide more working-class citizens with a quality job and help builders combat the industry’s labor crisis.

In booming markets like San Francisco, Denver and Miami, where gentrification is squeezing affordable housing, demand for these types of programs is growing.

The training programs are also occurring in smaller markets. In Milwaukee, for example, Gorman & Company, an apartment developer, has teamed up with city, state and community agencies to give former inmates on-the-job training restoring dilapidated, tax-foreclosed homes, which are then rented to low-income earners.

In some cases, contractors are required to meet local hiring targets, particularly on big projects that include incentives or are providing a public benefit. Cities and community organizations are recruiting and training workers to help builders meet the thresholds.

In addition to classes, the programs typically provide tools, boots and other equipment to the candidates, and they pay for items such as apprentice application fees, child care and gas. Case managers at the organizations even make sure newly employed graduates receive wake-up calls.

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