April 29, 2004 – A V.I. Housing Authority job skills training program for youths that was canceled due to a lack of funding earlier this year will soon start up again.
The YouthBuild USVI Program — which is geared toward teaching undereducated, unemployed and displaced youth construction skills — is scheduled to begin on May 24.
Irma Hodge, VIHA interior director of public relations and resident services, said a grant of $696,453 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is making the program available once again. Last year's program had been scheduled to run until March but was terminated in January because funds ran out.
The participants in that program, particularly on St. Croix, were upset that they were not able to graduate and expressed their displeasure in letters to the media. (See "YouthBuild program on St. Croix canceled".)
The participants were given the option of moving into the Day Adult Education program to finish earning their high school diplomas or GEDs.
Now, "we have restructured the program so that we will have enough money consistent with the grant award," Hodge said, adding that this time the funds will last.
The Housing Authority is currently accepting registration for the program, which is open to individuals ages 16 to 24.
The purpose of YouthBuild "is to ensure that these kids obtain an education as well as receive construction training," Hodge said. Participants can get GED instruction while also developing job skills; however, the program does not offer courses for students to earn their high school diplomas.
"We will be contracting out the education component program" the GED, computer literacy and life-coping skills classes and the construction training, Hodge said. VIHA is now accepting bids from groups, agencies and individuals interesting in providing the training for the students.
The program will last for 48 weeks, ending in April of 2005. Fifteen students from each district will be chosen to take part. Each will receive a weekly stipend of $125 based on participation and attendance. Hodge said the students will divide their time equally between classroom instruction and hands-on experience at construction sites.
Applications are available from all public housing managers' offices, the Housing Authority central offices in both districts, and the Section 8 office on St. Thomas. For more information, call VIHA at 777-8442, ext. 7331, on St. Thomas or 778-8442, ext. 2365, on St. Croix.
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