Jerry Mixon, Associate Director with Inner City Youth, and Joshua Arce, Director of Workforce Development with the Office of Economic and Workforce Development, hang a poster outside The Hub, a new job center to open in the Oceanside/Merced Heights/Ingleside neighborhood, the day before its grand opening on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

SF to open seventh job center in ‘overlooked’ neighborhoods

Oceanview, Merced Heights, Ingleside area has unemployment rates much higher than the city average

San Francisco’s booming, low-unemployment economy isn’t benefitting everyone equally. There remain neighborhoods, like Oceanview, Merced Heights, and Ingleside, where unemployment rates are much higher than the citywide average.

To combat this inequity, Mayor London Breed and District 11 Supervisor Ahsha Safai, who represents those neighborhoods, will announce Friday the opening of the OMI Job Center in partnership with the Office of Economic and Workforce Development.

The OMI Job Center, also being called the “Hub,” is located at 200 Broad St. and will operate Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm

“No matter where you live in San Francisco, everyone should have access to resources to connect with a job and earn a living wage,” Breed said. “This area that has been overlooked for too long and we see the results of that in the unemployment rate.”

“We need to provide people with opportunities to succeed, which is why we’re making these investments to bring employers together with the community to meet people where they live and start the next stages in their careers,” Breed said.

Helen Ortiz paints a wall at The Hub, a new job center to open in the Oceanside/Merced Heights/Ingleside neighborhood, the day before its grand opening on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Safai secured funding for the center earlier through The City’s budget process known as “add-backs.” The center, which will cost $200,000 to operate in the current fiscal year, will provide residents with a host of employment services, including e-job readiness workshops, help looking for work and connection to employment opportunities.

Safai told the Examiner that he was motivated to push to open the center about two years ago after there was a homicide in the area. He took a closer look at the unemployment and crime data and found the OMI had similar challenges to those seen in the Bayview and Western Addition, neighborhoods that already have job centers.

Having an actual physical location for job services “sends a message that The City cares and The City is here to help,” Safai said. “This is going to be a permanent fixture in the community.”

Joshua Arce, director of Workforce Development, who was on the site Thursday overseeing preparations for the opening Friday, said, “The OMI Job Center is long overdue. This community deserves not only this resource but so much more.”

“Look around the neighborhood and you see people looking for work, ready for work, with nowhere to go. That is all going to change tomorrow,” Arce said.

From left: Jerry Mixon, Associate Director with Inner City Youth, and Chad Houston with the Office of Economic and Workforce Development smile as they look over designs for a banner at The Hub, a new job center to open in the Oceanside/Merced Heights/Ingleside neighborhood, the day before its grand opening on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

The OMI Job Center is The City’s seventh neighborhood resource location and the first new one to open in more than two years. The other six are located in the Bayview, Chinatown, Mission, Tenderloin, Visitacion Valley and Western Addition.

The nonprofit Inner City Youth, a program of the Bayview-based Young Community Developers, will operate the OMI Job Center. The group has operated an afterschool program for years at a nearby location.

City officials said that data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey shows the OMI neighborhood has one of the highest unemployment rates in the City, 40 percent higher than the citywide average, which disproportionately impacts communities of color.

Toni Brock places flowers and plants in a flower bed outside The Hub, a new job center to open in the Oceanside/Merced Heights/Ingleside neighborhood, the day before its grand opening on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

When talking about unemployment there are different sources and different methods to measure it.

For example, there are approximately 1,600 residents still unemployed in zip code 94112, which includes the OMI and Excelsior and it is the highest jobless rates of all city zip codes, according 2018 data from the state’s Employment Development Department.

The OMI neighborhood has the City’s third largest population of unemployed African American residents, after the Bayview/Hunters Point and Western Addition, according to city officials.

There were 694 unemployed African Americans, followed by 288 in the Western Addition and 245 in the OMI, according to the five-year U.S. Census Bureau 2013-2017 American Community Survey.

Gwendolyn Brown, the director of Inner City Youth, said not having the employment services in the area of need can pose a barrier to youth, who are targets of gang-related activity if they visit areas outside of their neighborhood.

“We’re hoping to create more economic development for the corridor and for the residents,” Brown said.

She said a lot of the resources are already available from The City, but they just have not been accessible to the residents of OMI.

Brown said there will be something for everyone in the community at the center, including tech training for youth to build their resumes and digital literacy workshops for seniors.

Joaquín Torres, director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development, calld Friday’s opening of the job center a “a true symbol of hope for community residents seeking to be connected to the prosperity of our city.”

“As the doors open and services are provided, this community is finally seeing its neighborhood develop in a way that meets the needs of its residents,” Torres said. “One with spaces for children to play, small businesses that anchor communities, and job centers that expand economic opportunities with partners that understand the challenges and needs of our communities striving to move beyond the systemic barriers that have held them back.”

 

The Hub, a new job center to open in the Oceanside/Merced Heights/Ingleside neighborhood, the day before its grand opening on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

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