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Web site offers job help for homeless

Charities welcome idea, but some question its effectiveness.
Sunday, July 25, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 9:38 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

Ray Green sat near a coffee shop on Ninth Street, watching people come and go. He didn’t ask for money, but pedestrians would occasionally give him spare change.

Green, 40 years old and homeless, said he wasn’t aware of the new government Web site launched Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Labor designed to help homeless people find jobs, but laughed at the idea.

“I sleep in the street,” he said. “I can’t read. I can’t write. How can I use such things?”

Representatives of two nongovernmental agencies in Columbia, St. Francis House and the Salvation Army, that deal with the homeless welcomed the initiative, but said they weren’t sure it is the best way to help the homeless because they generally don’t have access to computers.

Steve Jacobs, a worker at St. Francis House, which provides housing and other assistance for homeless people, called the Web site “a great idea” but questioned how much it will be used.

“Computers won’t give them a roof or medicine,” Jacobs said.

Freemen Melody of the Salvation Army, said her agency offers free hot meals at noon and has 62 beds for homeless people, which she thinks is important, but she said she also thinks the new Web site will be helpful.

The Web site, www.dol.gov/dol/audience/aud-homeless.htm, provides a state-by-state list of government agencies that can assist in finding jobs.

The site includes a map of the United States. Users who click on the state of Missouri are provided with a list of 10 agencies including the Governor’s Council on Disability, the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration and the department’s unemployment benefits Web sites.


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