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Pacific Gateway PATH Program Employing the Unhoused at Willow Springs Park

Release Date: 2020-10-14

Long Beach Sustainability is proud to partner with Pacific Gateway on the new PATH program providing work experience for unhoused individuals in Long Beach. The program began its first cohort in July and placed five participants with LB Sustainability field staff to work in the restoration area at Willow Springs Park.

“Our approach at Willow Springs is to empower our crew, we hope that connecting them to the land will remind them of their strength and value,” Blanca Diaz, Willow Springs Coordinator said. “We not only tend to the land, but we tend to those who work the land through education, empowerment, team building, and native plants.”

Each PATH cohort is made up of 30 participants, 15 to be placed in a worksite with the City, and 15 to be placed in outside worksites. Participants work 15 hours and have 2 hours of job readiness training each week to prepare them to enter a permanent position after the program.

“We sincerely believe this program is helping people get work experience and gain the confidence and skills they need,” Program Specialist, Sal Barajas, said. For many participants, this is the step forward they have been waiting for to assist with connecting to permanent employment, financial security and affordable housing, three basics that are fundamental to a healthy and secure life.

Funding for this program is provided by the Health Department. Pacific Gateway is hopeful that the funding will be renewed next year to allow the program to continue and expand. Additional cohorts may be working at Sunnyside Cemetery and Long Beach’s Animal Care Services in 2021.

“This program has taught us how to be more responsive to the needs of people who are unhoused,” said Eric Serrato, Deputy Director & Communications Officer for Pacific Gateway. “One thing I want to emphasize is the level of care and dedication taken by those involved in the program. Larry [Rich, Sustainability Coordinator] and Blanca [Diaz, Native Plant Coordinator] are really taking care and teaching the crew about native plants which is something that is really special even when looking at programs happening nationally.”