Seattle’s $20 million ‘green’ jobs program employs just 14 people
Last year, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn announced the city had won a coveted $20 million federal grant to invest in weatherization. The unglamorous work of insulating crawl spaces and attics had emerged as a silver bullet in a bleak economy – able to create jobs and shrink carbon footprint – and the announcement came with great fanfare.
McGinn had joined Vice President Joe Biden in the White House to make it. It came on the eve of Earth Day. It had heady goals: creating 2,000 living-wage jobs in Seattle and retrofitting 2,000 homes in poorer neighborhoods.
But more than a year later, Seattle’s numbers are lackluster. As of last week, only three homes had been retrofitted and just 14 new jobs have emerged from the program. Many of the jobs are administrative, and not the entry-level pathways once dreamed of for low-income workers…
…Before the city got the $20 million, some local agencies, including Got Green, had received funds in a government push to train workers in weatherization. But the anticipation of landing career-path jobs evaporated as months went by with no work.
“People are frustrated and rightly so,” Curtis said. “There’s been sort of a lag time when people graduated from those programs.”
They include Long Duong, 32, who got a certificate in sealing air leaks and insulating walls after he was laid off from a job handling bags at the airport. But he soon found that other men had more qualifications than him, and he took part-time gigs – installing light bulbs and canvassing doors – while waiting for work.
A year later, he’s still looking….
…”But if this would have been easy, it would have been done already,” (Greenwich said.)
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