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Sue Murphy, Vice President and Executive Director of Liberty Bank Foundation
Last month, Liberty Bank Foundation and 26 other funders around the state celebrated the launch of Secure Jobs CT. The product of almost a year of planning, Secure Jobs CT is designed around a simple principle: it takes a steady job at living wage to enable families transitioning out of homelessness to sustain themselves and remain securely housed over the long term. The purpose of Secure Jobs CT is to provide families with whatever tools they need—housing, workforce development, education, child care, transportation—to get and keep that job. If it works as we hope it will, Secure Jobs CT will become a new model for coordination and collaboration among agencies working in all these areas.
So why did Liberty Bank Foundation get involved? Since we adopted affordable housing as one of our two funding priorities several years ago, we’ve learned a number of lessons about how a small foundation like ours can hope to make a dent in such a huge issue.
One of these is the priceless value of partnership. What we can’t do alone, we may be able to conquer with the right partners at our side so we think constantly about who else we can invite to the party. In the case of Secure Jobs CT, the list of partners is lengthy—funders, nonprofits, government, and eventually the businesses that we hope will employ families transitioning out of homelessness. None of us—not even the admittedly awesome Melville Charitable Trust, who took the lead in wooing fellow funders to invest in this great project—could have launched Secure Jobs CT on our own. But together, we’re off and running.
Another lesson is the recognition that “affordable housing” isn’t one thing, it’s a continuum. It encompasses emergency shelter, diversion, rapid re-housing, and permanent supportive housing, as well as the actual development of affordable rental and homeownership units. It’s all connected.
And that’s the third lesson. EVERYTHING is connected. Big social problems don’t come in neat little siloes. Neither do their solutions. Housing is impacted by employment is impacted by transportation, child care, education…the list goes on and on.
The strength of Secure Jobs CT lies in its ability to make those connections for families hoping to exit homelessness forever. At the very least, it will improve their lives. And if we get it right, it could provide a model for tackling other challenges. The way we see it, it’s a win either way.
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