Acie Green was at risk of becoming homeless and in need of a job when he chanced upon Mayor London Breed on a South of Market Area walking tour to observe the street conditions.
Green, 50, was hesitant to approach Breed, the San Francisco Examiner observed at the time, but eventually he did. Breed asked him if he was homeless and if he was willing to work. He explained a friend was letting him live at their house, but he was in need of housing and employment. One of her staff members asked him for his phone number.
Green didn’t know if anything would come of it. But the next day he got a call at Breed’s request from Joshua Arce, the mayor’s newly named Director of Workforce Development in the Office of Economic and Workforce Development.
With Arce’s help, Green became one of 36 to enroll in a five-week construction job training program tied to the Warriors Chase Center arena project in Mission Bay and in collaboration with OEWD’s CityBuild construction training program, which is designed to reach San Francisco’s most disadvantaged residents and help them profit from the booming economy.
On Thursday, Green was one of 32 successful graduates of the program celebrating their accomplishment at the Mission Rock Resort.
“We have a 2.6 unemployment rate in San Francisco, but sadly that percentage is a lot higher for African-Americans,” Breed told the graduates. “We want you to succeed in the job the market. That’s what this program is about.”
Breed also recounted her July encounter with Green and told him she was “so proud” he succeeded with the training. Not only that, but she broke the news that he would begin work Tuesday on the arena as a carpenter apprentice.
Green, who is a father of five, was born in Mississippi, and moved with his family to live in Hunters Point when he was aged 1. He said he recently lost his apartment in Oakland, where he held a part-time job at a fast-food chain, and has since moved in with a friend in San Francisco on a temporary basis.
He wants to make his career in construction work.
“This is my passion right here. I like to see results,” Green told the Examiner. “You got to work hard to get what you want out of life. If you get a simple easy job you aren’t going to get what you really want.”
Of the graduates, 18 were black, five Latino, four Asian-American and Pacific Islanders, two multi-racial and three “other.” Trainees received a $200 a week stipend and underwent 200 hours of training. Nine of the graduates were women.
Among them was Briana Anderson, 27.
“I didn’t see myself doing construction, I do hair,” she said. “But seeing this opportunity, I just had to jump on it. We don’t get too many opportunities like this, especially in Hunters Point.”
The five-weeks of training cost $150,000 and was funded by the JP Morgan Chase Foundation. There was no guarantee graduates would land a job working on the arena after completing the training. A Chase-funded training session in 2017 saw just seven of 33 graduates obtain work on the arena project.
But on Thursday Jim McLamb, vice president of Clark Construction, which is building the arena with Mortenson Construction, and Stephen Collins, The Warriors’ chief operating officer for the arena, announced they all had arena construction jobs beginning Tuesday.
For the Warriors, it’s a chance to gain support from the community and live up to commitments made during the approval process, including hiring local residents to do construction work.
Overall, local hiring on the project has averaged 15.3 percent of construction hours and 25 percent of apprentice hours.
“Across the board, we have shown that we are committed to the community, committed to the neighborhood,” Collins said. “That commitment will continue.”
“We couldn’t be more proud to be part of this historic training program,” McLamb said, adding that it will “ have a lasting impression on the communities that we live and work in.”
Arce said that the development boom and low unemployment rate creates a challenge for builders and contractors to have “enough workers to build everything from housing to infrastructure to sports arenas” but that CityBuild helps with supplying local workers while making “sure that no one is left behind in terms of having access to good-paying union construction jobs.”
Breed said she wants to see similar efforts for other industries. “One of the things I care about the most is making sure that we not only provide opportunities and academies in construction, but we open up the doors with academies for the healthcare industry, with the tech industry,” she said.