Why more jobs for men of color means more energy efficiency

HOST INTRO: In New York, one organization is helping men of color get jobs while helping local communities at the same time. Felice León has more.

James Hendon is the Chief Operating Officer of BlocPower. Get it – Bloc Power– good jobs, efficient cities, Block by block. What they do is provide jobs for men of color and find energy savings opportunities for small businesses in low-income communities.

HENDON: When you don’t have a job, then you do get a job for most people equals having dignity. And, that is something that we like to think that we are helping to bring about 

The jobs that BlocPower provides are all in energy efficiency.

HENDON: A large group of people who are lacking jobs, in these low-income areas who could benefit from jobs that come from this green energy work. 

Green is the new black. Or, at least green is the new jobs for Black men. BlocPower sees green energy as the future. Since they subsidize the jobs, BlocPower holds some weight in who gets hired.

HENDON: We then also say that we want you to hire people that look this way, who represent the community from which this work is to be done, and it so happens that a lot of men that need these jobs are Black men.

BOOKER: It was great. I was just happy to be working.

Last year 22 year-old Wesley Booker was a short-term intern with BlocPower. As part of his work he did what’s called energy audits. Today the narrow barbershop is packed.

When Booker walks into the space, he immediately sees the light.

BOOKER: Basically they had t-2 light bulbs, which were the thicker florescent light bulbs, and we changed them out to t-8’s which are more efficient, use less electricity and over-all save the business owner more money.    

This was the first form of employment that Wesley found after completing a green jobs-training program. He went on to secure another green energy job. Employment gave him a sense of leadership.

BOOKER: I think to be a leader, you have to have some type of independence and having a job on your own gives you that independence

Professor Darrick Hamilton, associate professor for Economics and Public Policy at the New School has focused his research on racial and ethnic inequality in economic and health outcomes. He says that unemployment for men of color is in a state of crisis.

HAMILTON: For one we have a paucity of jobs. Even with that shortage of jobs, there is still a long established history that is still on-going where Black workers are valued less in the workforce and in many cases out-right discriminated against. 

Blacks and Latinos made-up over 80 percent of the approximate 1.5 million residents that live in the Bronx.

In 2013, the Bronx it had a 12 percent unemployment rate in comparison to the City’s unemployment rate of 8.7 percent.

SMITH: The community where the poor people are, the community where unemployment is high, the community where pollution is high, crime is high. 

That’s what Taleigh Smith says is a common perception of the Bronx. She should know, after all, she is a Green Jobs organizer at the North West Bronx Community Clergy Coalition and a strong advocate of hiring local contractors.

SMITH: It immediately benefits the community in terms of programing and also creates jobs for local contractors that we are training in terms of energy efficiency work.

BlocPower is their quick-and-green solution to this problem. The two groups will collaborate in the near future. This means that faith-based organizations in the Bronx will be receiving solar energy efficiency retrofits.

SMITH: When the people from outside the Bronx, say in this case, contractors come in and fix our buildings, or our churches, obviously the building is improved, energy is saved, but people are just as poor at the end of the day.

To Smith, community is key. Programs like BlocPower will build community, and as a result help promote self- sufficiency and energy-efficiency.

Felice León, Columbia Radio News.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blacks and Latinos made-up over 80 percent of the approximate 1.5 million

residents that live in the Bronx.

In 2013, the Bronx it had a 12 percent unemployment rate in comparison to the

City’s unemployment rate of 8.7 percent.

SMITH: The community where the poor people are, the community

where unemployment is high, the community where pollution is high,

crime is high.

That’s what Taleigh Smith says is a common perception of the Bronx. She

should know, after all, she is a Green Jobs organizer at the North West Bronx

Community Clergy Coalition and a strong advocate of hiring local contractors.

SMITH: It immediately benefits the community in terms of

programing and also creates jobs for local contractors that we are

training in terms of energy efficiency work.

BlocPower is their quick-and-green solution to this problem. The two groups will

collaborate in the near future. This means that faith-based organizations in the

Bronx will be receiving solar energy efficiency retrofits.

SMITH: When the people from outside the Bronx, say in this case,

contractors come in and fix our buildings, or our churches, obviously

the building is improved, energy is saved, but people are just as poor

at the end of the day.

To Smith, community is key. Programs like BlocPower will build community,

and as a result help promote self- sufficiency and energy-efficiency. Felice León,

Columbia Radio News.

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