“Breaking Barriers” Events Moves Obstacles, Creates an Equal Playing Field for All
A Breaking Barriers attendee gets his blood pressure checked while enjoying good food and music.[/caption]
What Breaking Barriers Does
On June 16th, Success Center San Francisco (SCSF) had its latest Breaking Barriers event. Over 100 attended the event, a resource fair – one-stop opportunities for individuals and families seeking assistance overcoming obstacles that may prevent them from achieving their goals in life.
Here’s how the program works: dozens of nonprofit support providers gather in one community. The family friendly event provides participants with access to supportive services along with free food / refreshments, live entertainment, giveaways and more. It’s a combination of community unity with a dose of remedies for educational, employment, child care, and other concerns mixed in.
The events, (which Success Center SF started in September 2016) lift away the red tape often encountered by people who most need help in order to attain the education and employment they need to lead happy, sustainable lives. Some of the more frequent obstacles cited by attendees include:
- Finding good child care options
- Getting a drivers’ license reinstated
- Homelessness/Housing needs
- Expunging criminal records for a crime committed in youth.
- Access to healthcare
- Food insecurity
These, and other common barrier removal needs, are imperative to stem the substantially lower employment rates of African Americans, Latinos/Hispanics, Asian Americans, and other people of color in San Francisco.
Over the past few years, Bay Area residents been subjected to a constant barrage of statistics underscoring the income disparity problem in San Francisco. So many in fact, it may be difficult for many not to become indifferent to the seemingly unending income inequality figures.
But here’s one statistic from a recent survey that stood out.
“Only 53 percent of African Americans living in San Francisco are employed.” (Brookings Institute report, February 2017)
Troubling statistics like these are why SCSF’s Breaking Barriers (the most recent one occurred on June 16th) is so important to the underserved communities the events serve; many of whom may not have their GED, lack work experience, or have other barriers to employment.
“Many of the people who find themselves without jobs really do want to work but don’t know where to turn to find the help they need. This Breaking Barriers event will give them the answers they need toward finding a job,” said Success Center SF Community Outreach Manager, Adrian Owens.
The employment rate as measured by the Brookings report is a different measurement than the federal unemployment rates issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Comparing the numbers in the Brookings report to the city’s unemployment rate (3.1% in San Francisco in April 2017) would be an apples to oranges analogy. But still, it’s a jarring number.
Bay Area Income Disparity in Action
For many living in SF, it seems like only some inhabitants are enjoying the bullish Bay Area economy. An economy primarily fueled by tech; a high-wage sector flush with money but lacking in diversity.
For others, particularly those residing in neighborhood where more low-income residents are concentrated (such as the Western Addition/Fillmore, Bayview /Hunters Point, and others), residents are more likely to be either unemployed or underemployed (working part-time, lower wage jobs).
A look at the city’s median household incomes, by neighborhood and race found in a recent San Francisco Board of Supervisors report revealed the following:
- African Americans living in the Western Addition had an annual income of $12, 156 while whites living in the same area made $75,271 – a whopping difference in income of over 600%.
- In Bayview / Hunters Point African American households have median household earnings of $34,547, Latinos/Hispanics have a median income of $40,709, while white households in the same area have a median income of $103,428.
How Breaking Barriers Helps Make SF Communities Stronger
It’s difficult for people to find — or keep — a job if, for example, they have to take off time to care for their children because they can’t find affordable child care. Others may think the job market is permanently closed off to them because of past mistakes, such as DUIs, theft, and other justice system issues that may continue to show up during background checks. By helping residents resolve these and other common challenges, Breaking Barriers can make a profound difference in the lives of the communities SCSF serves.
Success Center San Francisco’s Executive Director Liz Jackson-Simpson summed up the impact of Breaking Barriers this way:
“We have assisted hundreds of Western Addition residents by matching them up with the right resources that can help them.
We are humbled to have helped people turn their lives around by aiding in lifting barriers that get in the way of them finding
(Liz Jackson Simpson, Executive Director – Success Center SF)
Success Center SF has several Breaking Barriers events throughout the year. For information about when the next Breaking Barriers is scheduled please visit http://www.successcentersf.org or call us at 415-549-7000. You can quickly get on our email announcement list by texting the word “Successcenter” to 22828.
Looking for Work
Looking for a job? There’s no need to wait for the next Breaking Barriers. Drop by the Western Addition Career Center
(1449 Webster Street). Job seekers are provided with access to our high tech computer lab, copier/fax and other services. All free of charge.
The Career Center’s hours are Monday – Thursday: 9:00am – 7:00pm and Friday: 9:00am-12pm. New client orientations are every Monday- Thursday at 10:00am. For more information call 415-549-7000.
By Merrie Triplett