LOCAL NEWS

Building homes may construct new future for Salt Lake City’s homeless

Feb 6, 2018, 6:45 PM | Updated: 11:46 pm
Kevin Cressall graduates from pilot program which teaches Utah's homeless construction skills...
Kevin Cressall graduates from pilot program which teaches Utah's homeless construction skills

Thanks to a new Salt Lake City pilot program at the Salt Lake Community College, two men, who spent most of the last year homeless, will now have the construction skills to build a home, and a roof over their heads.

“I want to be successful and make a difference,” said Kevin Cressall. “I’ve got a fresh start. I’ve got an opportunity, and I plan to use that and move forward in my life.”

“This program was tremendous,” said Daniel Pitts.  “This was a good kick in the butt for me to get my feet under me.”

Cressall and Pitts, along with six other trainees, received certificates of completion for the pilot program on Tuesday and immediately began interviewing with potential employers.

The pilot program provided apprentices six months of free housing and a month of intensive training in framing for the construction industry. The apprentices used their skills to build two sheds.

“We learned some framing skills, shingling, layout,” Cressall said.

Cressall worked construction before, and was glad to freshen up his skills. He was also thankful to trade the homeless shelter, where he lived on and off for the last few years, for six months of free housing.

“That’s huge,” Cressall said. “I’m very grateful.”

“Being able to give them the job training to go from a $7.25 an hour job, to a $15 an hour job, that’s life changing,” said Lara Fritts, Director of the Salt Lake City Department of Economic Development.

Salt Lake City’s Department of Economic Development worked with partners at: The Housing Authority of Salt Lake City, Utah Department of Workforce Services, Catholic Community Services of Utah, Salt Lake Community College, Utah Transit Authority, and construction industry leaders to develop and execute the program.

“This endeavor came about as many of us brainstormed ways Salt Lake City and Utah could begin to tackle both the homelessness issue and workforce challenges,” Fritts said.

“It’s truly amazing to see how well many of these students have done, Fritts said. “They’ve shown a dedication to improving their lives and are now armed with a new, high-demand skill to secure gainful employment, while at the same time filling a major workforce gap in the state.”

“It’s giving us a chance to get the bearings of ourselves, and regroup, and be able to be responsible and work to the future,” said Cressall.

Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski congratulates graduates of pilot program aimed at providing Utah's homeless with construction skills Graduates receive certificates from pilot program aimed at providing Utah's homeless with construction skills Graduates receive certificates from pilot program aimed at providing Utah's homeless with construction skills Kevin Cressall graduates from pilot program which teaches Utah's homeless construction skills

Mayor Jackie Biskupski praised the trainees during her Jan. 31 State of the City Address.

“This program is a success because it combines the stabilizing forces of housing, transit, economic development and education,” Biskupski said. “It is a reality because of the community’s unprecedented focus on helping those without a place to call home.”

The program was funded primarily through donations from the community and the Housing Authority of Salt Lake City, which made an additional $10,000 donation Wednesday for a potential future training.

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Building homes may construct new future for Salt Lake City’s homeless