OP-ED: NAACP Questions City’s Underfunding of Job and Training Programs

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By George Holland, president, Oakland NACCP

 

(Thank you) Chairperson Larry Reid of the Community and Economic Development Committee…for placing on your committee’s agenda the issue of underfunding of our employment training organizations which provide services to low-income and re-entry populations.

The underfunding is a subject matter for which the NAACP-Oakland Chapter has repeatedly expressed our deep concerns.

 

This is especially true when we believe that there is an over-expenditure of scarce resources on city administrative costs for its own staff (possibly in violation of federal guidelines); the inability to expend the available funds in a timely manner, resulting in the return of grant money to the state (a problem which continues to this date).

 

Key budget meetings of the Workforce Investment Board, particularly those concerning budgeting for programs, being held in secret without the ability of the public to meaningfully participate; the continued underfunding of essential adult and youth programs; and, most importantly, the negative impact that these matters of concerns have upon essential and required services to the public.

 

As you are aware, Oakland has been hard hit in recent years by the national economic recession. While there are definite signs of improvement, it is also clear that Oakland continues to be slow to emerge form the recession.

 

Unemployment rates in the City remain well above the state norm and small businesses continue to shut down, further reducing available jobs. Local economic studies have shown that those jobs that are available require specific skill sets for which there are not enough training dollars for effective response from among our long term unemployed.

 

The limited available training dollars are focused away from the low-income and re-entry populations that make up such a large portion of our City’s unemployed.

 

Yet, the City of Oakland continues to underfund non-profit organizations, which provide employment training, choosing instead to invest heavily in its own administrative staff.

 

The negative impacts of these matters disproportionately affect persons of color.

 

We understand that the City Council, staring with the CED Committee, has oversight responsibility for the budgets and budget processes for Workforce Investment Act funds awarded to the city. Thus, we ask you to consider and deliberate on the issues we have raised.

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