Mayor London Breed speaks about the JobsNOW program outside the Balboa Theater on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (Samantha Laurey/Special to S.F Examiner)

Mayor London Breed speaks about the JobsNOW program outside the Balboa Theater on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (Samantha Laurey/Special to S.F Examiner)

Expanded city employment program gives aid to neediest residents

A city employment program will be expanded to give more low-income residents access to jobs and forge ahead with local economic revival, Mayor London Breed announced Tuesday.

The city directed $28 million this fiscal year to JobsNOW!, a program operated by the San Francisco Human Services Agency, at the recommendation of the Economic Recovery Task Force. The funding, a $7.4 million increase from 2019, will help support 3,600 subsidized employment placements along with hundreds of local businesses.

“It’s been a very, very challenging seven months in San Francisco,” Mayor London Breed said, speaking at a news conference in front of the Balboa Theater in the Richmond District. “We saw unemployment go to over 60,000 people [since April]. As of today, over 200,000 people have filed for unemployment; we’ve seen businesses close and some that we’ve been going to our entire lives close permanently.”

Residents eligible for JobsNOW! are those who earn less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level, or less than $25,520 as a single resident or $52,400 as a family of four.

“JobsNow! matches low income, unemployed or underemployed people with job opportunities in the private sector, the public sector and also in the nonprofit,” said Trent Rhorer, executive director of the San Francisco Human Services Agency. “It takes care of business hiring needs, and this is especially important for small businesses.”

In addition to helping the unemployed, JobsNOW! supports business owners as well, reimbursing them $625 to $1,500 a month for up to six months to cover the wages of hired employees.

Prior to the pandemic, San Francisco’s unemployment rate was less than 2 percent. At its height, unemployment reached 12 percent, and it currently sits at 8 percent, Breed said.

While the rest of the country has seen increases in COVID-19 cases, San Francisco has earned the distinction of being the first Bay Area city to be classified as yellow tier according to Gov. Newsom’s color-coded COVID-19 tracking system. This means that most indoor businesses can reopen with modifications.

“Reopening alone won’t translate to recovery,” said Carmen Chu, the co-chair of the Economic Recovery Task Force. “Many businesses still can’t afford to hire back workers and that’s where JobsNOW! comes in. By investing an additional $7.4 million, we seed employment in our economy-enabling businesses and workers to stabilize and restart with a little less out of pocket.”

For more information on the program, visit sfhsa.org.

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