Job fair in Tacoma designed for homeless draws nearly 550 people

TACOMA, Wash. – As the homeless crisis in our region continues to grow, hundreds of people living without shelter in and around Tacoma lined up Tuesday for a job fair.

The job fair comes nearly one week after Pierce County cleared a massive homeless camp that was getting a lot of complaints from neighbors and businesses about theft in the Puyallup area.

Pierce County sheriff's deputies say outreach teams offered the people living in the camp help, like access to housing and drug treatments before clearing them out along with 35 tons of waste from the property. Deputies say just about everyone refused their help, except for one man who is working with a resource officer to move forward.

The job fair in Tacoma is just one way organizations in the South Sound are hoping to get as many people into work and off the streets as possible.

“With the number of homeless that we have right now, I think with the number rising constantly, we’ve got to do something,” said Goodwill’s Kelly Blucher. “I know housing isn’t going to be the solution, we can’t provide houses for everybody, we can’t. But what we can do is provide jobs for everybody.”

At the Goodwill Milgard Work Opportunity work center in Tacoma, there was more than just job opportunities inside -- there was also hope.

“What you’re getting here today is not also an opportunity for employment, but you’re meeting with Goodwill and Goodwill staff but other community partners as well and connect with some case management and wrap around resources as well,” said Blucher.

Thanks to Hire 253, tomorrow could mean the beginning of a decent wage and a chance to escape homelessness for many at the job fair.

“There’s a lot of families in here right now that are living on the streets,” said Blucher. “There are a lot of families in here right now that may be facing eviction this week. There’s children in here right now that are facing homelessness.”

Hundreds of adults and teenagers came seeking employment, along with nearly 80 companies.

“Downstairs, he hired me right on the spot,” said Jason Ramsdell.

Ramsdell says the job offer he accepted means he and his son might soon be able to leave the shelter for good.

“I just keep on going,” he said, “I mean if it was easy enough to get the job here who knows what else.”

“People are struggling,” said Blucher. “There is a struggle out there, it’s real.”

Officials say 542 people showed up hunting for work because of that struggle.

And for Ramsdell and his son, the job offer is a chance to get back on their feet and soon maybe even an apartment.

“We’re changing lives today,” said Blucher, “We’re making a difference in the community and that’s the point of this event.”

Tuesday’s job fair is the third of its kind hosted by Goodwill and partnering organizations. The next one, according to Goodwill, is expected to be even bigger and it is scheduled for September.