YouthBuild Rockford program receives $700,000 HUD grant

Thousands of low-income young people across the United States will return to school and begin new careers in the homebuilding trades because of $58 million in grants announced by Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Alphonso Jackson. The grants are part of HUD’s YouthBuild Program to offer job training and leadership skills to an estimated 4,300 young people while putting them back on a path toward graduation. These grants will also help train them for a future in the construction trades while producing nearly 2,000 homes for lower-income families, many facing homelessness.

Comprehensive Community Solutions’ YouthBuild Rockford Program received one of only five grants awarded in the state of Illinois. Now in its 12th year of operation, YouthBuild Rockford has provided educational and vocational opportunities for 506 youth since 1995. Engaged in community service as part of the program plan, these youth have contributed more than 105,306 hours of community service, participating in 1,046 projects in the Rockford area. YouthBuild members have completed 31 units of affordable housing in Rockford, redeveloping blighted neighborhoods and providing affordable family homes.

“These grants will help young people to earn their high school diplomas and open the door to their economic futures,” said Jackson. “This is a win-win program since these young people learn high-demand job skills while producing affordable homes in their own communities.”

Young people who enroll in local YouthBuild programs lack high school diplomas and the job skills necessary to find meaningful employment. The funding will help young men and women, ages 16 to 24, to receive their high school equivalency diplomas and provide them training in homebuilding skills that will qualify them for careers in the building industry.

Program participants will receive on-the-job training in the building trades and help build and renovate homes that are then sold at affordable prices to low- and very low-income people as well as to homeless individuals and families. In addition, these grants are anticipated to generate millions of additional dollars from other public and private sources.

This announcement marks a transition of the YouthBuild program from HUD to the Department of Labor. This transfer represents the fulfillment of a 2003 White House Task Force Report on Disadvantaged Youth and resulted in the passage of The YouthBuild Transfer Act, signed by President George W. Bush in September.

HUD is the nation’s housing agency committed to increasing homeownership; creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income Americans; and supporting the homeless, elderly, people with disabilities and people living with AIDS. The Department also promotes economic and community development as well as enforces the nation’s fair housing laws.

“We are very proud of our program and our students, and we are honored to have been selected to receive this tremendous support for our Rockford community,” said Kerry Knodle, founder and executive director of Comprehensive Community Solutions.

From the Dec. 13-19, 2006, issue

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!