AUSTIN, Texas (September 7, 2020) — Labor Day celebrates the contributions of the American worker to the social and economic well-being of our nation. On a fundamental level, it recognizes the dignity of work.
The Other Ones Foundation (TOOF) provides good-paying regular employment opportunities to people experiencing homelessness, providing an avenue to the same dignity of work the labor movement fought for. TOOF is Fiercely Focused on ending homelessness.
TOOF began its flagship program, Workforce First, in 2018. Working with the City of Austin, they recruited people experiencing homelessness to clean up parks and remove invasive species.
“Folks on the crews receive case management and are paid $15 an hour,” explained Max Moscoe, TOOF’s Community Engagement Coordinator. Since it began, the program has paid out more than $300,000 in earned wages.
The organization also runs mobile shower trailers around the community, along with two permanent shower facilities, one downtown and one at the state-sanctioned encampment on U.S. 183.
TOOF recently moved its operation to the camp, which residents voted to name Camp Esperanza.
“Our intent is to really make this a service hub,” said Jazzlynn Derrick, TOOF’s Deputy Director of Mobile Services and Outreach. The first thing the group did when it moved to Camp Esperanza was conduct a weeks-long needs assessment.
The majority of residents contributed to the assessment, which will guide which services are available and how they’re provided.
Residents also recently elected a five-person Leadership Council that will create rules, mediate disputes, and represent the voice of the camp in discussions about ongoing needs.
Watch the video above to see how TOOF is Fiercely Focused on ending homelessness.