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Tacoma community organizations come together to offer jobs, housing to vulnerable residents

A Tacoma community event connected those in need with permanent housing and employers who are currently hiring.

TACOMA, Wash. — Associated Ministries of Tacoma Pierce County connected with Hire 253 to host a job fair on Friday in People’s Park, creating a one-stop-shop for people who are trying to get back on their feet, or just need a little help.

“I think that going out to places like these, these hiring events, is beneficial, not just for the homeless community, but the community as a whole,” said Saydey Spears, a Tacoma resident who was able to transition out of homelessness three years ago. Spears knows firsthand about the challenges of homelessness, and how these events are vital to overcoming those challenges.

“In these hiring events, you have the ability to connect with not only your physical well-being but your mental well-being and your spiritual well-being,” she said.

But it’s not just about donations of food and clothes. Attendees who came were able to get access to county-level resources.

“We’re doing coordinated entry screening, so for those who’re experiencing homelessness, that’s the front door to the homeless response system in Pierce County,” explained Mike Yoder, executive director for Associated Ministries. “We’re doing intake screenings to get people prioritized, assigned a case manager, and hopefully permanently housed.”

Employers also attended to give people the chance to leave with a job.

“We have employment opportunities, in fact, we even have jobs today, for people who’re ready to get back to work,” Yoder said.

Pierce County’s unemployment rate currently stands at just over 5%.

Although that isn’t as nearly as high as it was last April, when it approached 20%, it’s still slightly higher than the state average, so events like this are vital in addressing people’s need to find work.

Spears said she can understand an event like that can be overwhelming, but she still encourages people to show up, and that it’s possible to rebuild.

“Before I used to come to these things, I was very lost. I didn’t know what direction to take, I didn’t know who to talk to, and to a point, these places can be intimidating,” Spears said. “But in the same breath, it’s exciting, because you’re meeting and greeting with people that’re out here because they care…I came from the same place they did, but the difference is, I can show them where they can end up.”