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Portland Expands Program to Find Jobs for General Assistance Recipients

A program in Portland designed to help move general assistance recipients into work and off the welfare rolls is expanding its scope.

The city launched the Helping Individuals Regain Employment, or HIRE, program in January.

City Councilor Ed Suslovic says the program began with a focus on getting new immigrants ready to work before they had work permits.

“Trying to make sure that any barriers to employment, whether it was English language proficiency, whether it was getting credentials transferred,” he says. “So that was the primary purpose.”

Now, Suslovic says the program has been so successful that it’s opening the program up to all general assistance recipients in the city.

“The idea is to help them move to self-sufficiency and help them move off the GA rolls as soon as possible,” he says.

HIRE has enrolled 54 new clients, nine of whom so far have gotten full-time jobs.

Suslovic says Portland’s unemployment rate is very low, and growth in industries like hospitality has companies actively looking for new employees.

Nora is originally from the Boston area but has lived in Chicago, Michigan, New York City and at the northern tip of New York state. Nora began working in public radio at Michigan Radio in Ann Arbor and has been an on-air host, a reporter, a digital editor, a producer, and, when they let her, played records.