GOOD NEWS
09/29/2016 05:04 pm ET Updated Oct 04, 2016

Homeless Learn Coding, Job Skills In Programs That Help Provide Fresh Start

“It has given them the dignity to go back to their families with pride.”

A job readiness boot camp in San Francisco is giving homeless people there the skills they need to help get their lives back on track.

Called Code Tenderloin, the nonprofit organization offers free training in resumé writing, job interview skills, workplace conduct and even tech skills like coding to give people in need their best shot at employment opportunities.

In the past eight months alone, Code Tenderloin has helped more than 60 people find work, Del Seymour, the formerly homeless man who founded the nonprofit, told The Huffington Post in an email. 

“This program has dramatically changed their lives,” Seymour told HuffPost. “It has given them the dignity to go back to their families with pride.” 

Courtesy of Code Tenderloin

It’s no secret that getting a job isn’t easy for homeless people.

Employers often discriminate against job seekers who lack an address, Megan Hustings, director of the National Coalition for the Homeless, told HuffPost. Those with gaps in their resumés, or limitations on their time or wardrobe, also face being overlooked. 

Ironically, these issues are often the very things that cause homelessness in the first place, Hustings said, adding that job discrimination stems ultimately from negative stereotypes of homelessness. 

“The common myth is that everyone who is homeless has lost their home due to some fault of their own, but this is simply just not the case,” Hustings said. “There are a myriad of causes of homelessness and any combination of situations can lead someone to lose their home. It can really happen to anyone.” 

Del Seymour, founder of Code Tenderloin. 
Courtesy of Code Tenderloin
Del Seymour, founder of Code Tenderloin. 

Code Tenderloin, named for a San Francisco neighborhood where homelessness is common, offers help in the form of a four-week job readiness course in which participants meet twice a week to learn about workplace conduct and resumé writing, among other skills. They also practice with mock interviews. 

“One of our biggest areas that we attack is employee-employer relationships,” Seymour said, stressing the importance of the program’s communications skills training. “That’s where people tend to have the biggest problems on the job.” 

In the nonprofit’s coding bootcamp, called Code Ramp, participants dive into the basics of front-end web development, learning HTML, CSS, and Javascript. Those who choose to do so can go on to a city-funded program called TechSF, where they hone their coding skills and get on a fast track to certification. 

Beyond training, the nonprofit maintains a network of businesses and organizations that help participants land jobs. The network includes some big names, including Microsoft, Twitter, Spotify, Dolby and Zendesk.

Employment opportunities range from service jobs to construction to tech support, Seymour said. Job seekers get assistance with transportation, clothing and referrals for housing and child care ― and help overcoming barriers that stand between them and good jobs.

“Background checks; we have a problem with that,” Seymour explained to KTVU, a local TV station. “So we are getting employers to take people with checkered backgrounds.” 

Code Tenderloin even keeps tabs on workers after they’re hired ― to make sure they have what they need to stay employed.

At the end of the day, it’s all about making lives better. As Seymour told Next City, “We celebrate the fact that [someone] can make an 180-degree turnaround in [their] life.”

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