From April-July, SCC received a grant from the city of Somerville Job Creation and Retention Trust Fund to offer assistance to community members needing help to apply for or access unemployment benefits. SCC helped 174 community members apply for unemployment benefits and resolve issues related to unemployment benefits. The services provided through this grant included:
- Screening residents for eligibility for unemployment benefits
- Assistance in submitting unemployment benefits applications (UI and PUA)
- Technical support to resolve problems with benefit applications
- Acting as liaison between community members and GBLS for resolving complex unemployment cases
- Understanding one’s rights as a worker during the Covid-19 pandemic, and staying safe on the job
- Assistance applying for other sources of financial support, such as the Somerville Cares Fund
- Assistance conducting job searches and applying for jobs
- Referrals to other community resources and services
One of the primary target for this work was SCC’s tenant population. Many of SCC’s approximately 300 households in the city of Somerville have already sought help from First Source during the Covid crisis, and we anticipate the need will only increase. The secondary target for this work was community members referred to SCC from our existing network of partner agencies. We continue to receive referrals from many organizations, such as Cambridge Health Alliance, GBLS, SomerViva and the Somerville Homeless Coalition. Services were available in multiple languages, including Spanish, Portuguese, Haitian Creole, Arabic, French, and Hindi.
The program hired three part-time contractors, who have now become technical experts in all things unemployment-related. The three contractors were responsible for receiving client referrals and coordinating with First Source career coaches to manage case loads, review individual client situations, and coordinate wrap-around referrals. Many of the people who were first connected to SCC seeking assistance with unemployment benefits have now enrolled in the First Source Jobs program for support with their job search and career development.
Many thanks to the Job Creation & Retention Trust Fund, and to our wonderful contractors Fatima, Marcia, and Vanessa!