Work First

  • Work First Employee
  • Work First

Pathways to Housing PA operates our Work First Program at our Philadelphia Furniture Bank. The program increases low barrier job placement, both short and long term, while helping participants develop skills and increasing income. We believe that complex issues like homelessness require creativity, innovation, and constant evolution to meet the needs of those affected, and the Work First program was developed specifically to support those exiting homelessness who have struggled to find employment. 

Those with substance use disorder (SUD) are often excluded from employment programs or required to seek treatment prior to pursuing employment, and criminal history and lack of education make it even more difficult to find employment. Our experience is that stability – including a steady income – is the first step to treating SUD, and we do not exclude those who use substances. Everyone should have choices in life, and we empower people to make informed choices that reduce harm to themselves and others.

The program is open to people who have experienced homelessness and are currently in rapid, transitional, or permanent supportive housing in our system and provides wage-paid work, job skills training, and other employment services in a supportive environment with three tiers: job readiness training, transitional employment, and assistance with employment. 

In the first tier, participants work with our Workforce Development Manager to identify their experiences/aspirations and develop individual career plans designed to enhance their skills. The job readiness training helps participants understand workplace etiquette and employer expectations while also learning how to conduct an effective job search in their chosen area of employment. Program participants develop the behavior, life management, and interpersonal skills to become confident and productive employees.

Tier two consists of paid part-time employment at the Philadelphia Furniture Bank. These positions include warehouse support, furniture delivery, personal shoppers, and clerical assistance. Life skills sessions are provided to help provide a positive outlook and build successful workplace relationships. 

In final tier, participants have access to ongoing support from workforce development staff to secure and maintain competitive employment. Linkages to employers, assistance with resume, and coaching are offered as needed. In addition to overseeing programming and supervising Work First employees, the Workforce Development Manager also builds relationships with businesses that could employ participants upon the completion of the program to ensure a smooth transition to permanent employment. 

Participants will enter the program on a rolling basis and spend up to 18 months completing each tier of the program; each tier may occur as parallel processes, or may occur in sequence. If you are a case manager with a client who might benefit from the Work First program, please fill out our application form

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