Fostering Employment in the Trades

Program turns lives around; grows support

12/3/2019, 4:22 p.m.
Grant will pay for the training of 50 community members in the skilled construction trades and add new records expungement ...
Portland area residents train in the construction trades thanks to Constructing Hope, a pre-apprenticeship program rooted in Portland’s African American community.

The city of Portland is investing $100,000 to help the northeast Portland nonprofit Constructing Hope provide construction training and records expungement for low-income residents.

The recent grant will pay for the training of 50 community members in the skilled construction trades and add new records expungement services for people with a criminal justice history.

“Traditionally, people of color were disproportionally tarnished with a criminal record for minor offenses, including cannabis possession,” said Pat Daniels, executive director of Constructing Hope. “So this grant will have a tremendous impact on Portland’s communities of color.”

Construction is one of the few industries that will hire people with a criminal record, but that record can bar graduates from many projects, such as federally-funded contracts. Constructing Hope will help people reduce or remove their criminal records history and secure their driver’s license in a timely manner.

The grant will help people like Robert Thomas. When Robert came to Constructing Hope, he was struggling to find a life direction after eight years in the criminal justice system. With custody of his 10-year-old daughter, it became even more important to gain the skills to better not only his life, but his daughter’s.

Robert completed Constructing Hope’s no-cost, 10-week pre-apprenticeship program last December.

“The day the program ended, I got a call to go to work” as a first-term ironworker apprentice with Local 29—earning $22.25 an hour.

With this grant, Robert can potentially reduce his felony record to a misdemeanor and qualify for desirable contracts such as Port of Portland and the Portland airport.”

Last year, Constructing Hope placed 65 previously unemployed or underemployed Oregonians in new careers with an average starting wage of $18.50. Community members from low-income households seeking no-cost construction training can learn more by visiting constructinghope.org or call the organization at 503-281-1234.