Federal funding running out for thousands of working single parents

San Francisco officials are looking for options to prevent thousands of single parents from losing their federally funded jobs on Sept. 30, Mayor Gavin Newsom said today.

“We're not giving up,” he said at a press conference. “We're trying to figure out a way around this.”

Funding for Jobs NOW!, a stimulus program launched in May 2009 that provided jobs to more than 4,100 San Francisco single parents, will run out on Sept. 30 and leave thousands of jobs on the chopping block.

The mayor's office is hoping to keep some of the jobs by offering private businesses one-time cash incentives.

Businesses will be offered a $2,500 check, and if they accept it, employers must agree to keep on the single parents.

“The subsidy is a reimbursement of wages,” said Tony Lugo, a director at the Department of Human Services. “So the employer would have to pay at least $2,500 worth of wages.”

The incentives would come from $9 million in local funds and would be made available to as many as 1,740 single parents currently being paid with federal stimulus money, the mayor said.

It was unclear what would happen to the remaining 2,347 people currently employed through the Jobs NOW! program.

“I'm really disappointed that they're not able to continue the funding because that'll put a lot of people out of work,” said Destiney Olaguibel, a single mother of two.

Olaguibel, who has lived in San Francisco since 2008, has a hard time finding work because of her background.

“I was in and out of jail and penitentiary,” she said. “You can get on Craigslist and apply and apply, but people these days aren't willing to give you opportunities if you're an ex-convict.”

Olaguibel currently works for Skytech Solar, a company that uses grant money to install solar power for low-income San Francisco residents.</p>

“The residents are essentially rebuilding their own communities with solar,” founder and chief executive officer Colin Swan said. “We plan on keeping the majority of the Jobs NOW! employees after the 30th. We can't keep them all.”

Swan's company employs six single parents through the stimulus program and will hold on to those with the most experience.

“The ones we can't keep, we gave them the chance to at least get some experience,” he said.

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