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New York City government will spend $37 million to hire 1,500 residents “at risk of involvement in gun violence” in green energy jobs, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Wednesday.
“A recovery for all of us does not exist unless each and every New Yorker feels safe,” de Blasio said in a statement. “By providing training and employment opportunities to those at risk of gun violence, we can stop violence before it happens and invest in safer communities.”
The program, a partnership with climate tech startup BlocPower, will aim to keep people away from a violent life by providing “good-paying,” “green” jobs “with a future” to residents of neighborhoods with high rates of shooting incidents, like Brownsville, Brooklyn; Jamaica, Queens; Harlem, and Mott Haven, Bronx, the mayor said. He argued that crime in the city is being perpetrated by only a few thousand people, and that such a program would kill two birds with one stone by reducing violence in those communities and adding workers to the green economy.
“Fifteen hundred jobs is a lot when you consider the fact that the violence in the city is done by a few thousand people out of 8.8 million,” Hizzoner said at his daily press briefing Wednesday. “It’s only a few thousand people. Every single person we divert to a positive path helps all of us.”
The city will hire 200 people from neighborhoods facing high rates of gun violence as part of its first wave of entrants to the program; nonprofit partners will provide training in areas like OSHA compliance, communications skills, technical skills, and conflict resolution before matching them into jobs with companies like BlocPower, which has retrofitted hundreds of buildings across the city to greater energy using software that identifies buildings that are prime candidates, and what needs those buildings have. The jobs will pay no less than $20 per hour, the mayor’s office says.
BlocPower CEO Donnel Baird described how teams with his organization are currently assisting flooded homeowners in Queens, installing free, community-owned internet on NYCHA rooftops in the Bronx, and evaluating buildings in Brooklyn that could be candidates to move to clean energy, or “turning the building into a Tesla” as he deemed it. He effusively praised the mayor for the policy.
“We have an innovation that has national implications for cities and communities,” Baird said at the mayor’s briefing. “Not only in New York, but across America.”