Sherissa Cross is one of thousands of Chicago Housing Authority residents who have found good jobs through Opportunity Chicago.
Sherissa Cross moved to the new mixed-income housing community
with her grandmother in 2005, she
didn’t realize that her new home would also lead to a new job
Cross previously had lived in
the Madden Wells public housing complex, which was among the troubled sites
targeted for redevelopment through the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) Plan
As part of her decision to move
Shores , she knew she would need to
abide by the CHA requirement that all adult, able-bodied, non-senior residents
living in public housing work 30 hours per week.
Cross wasn’t sure how to find a job that suited her interests and skills.
Fortunately, not long after her move, she received a flyer from The Community
Builders (TCB) –
’ developers – outlining a host of
ways they could assist her in her job search. Cross worked one-on-one with TCB’s
Andy Michails to identify her interest in retail and sales and find a matching
employment opportunity: a seasonal position with Macy’s merchandising
department. Michails didn’t stop there. He helped Cross prepare for the
interview process and even accompanied her to Macy’s on the day of the interview
to ease her nerves.
got the job, and was such an asset to Macy’s that the company hired her again
the following holiday season.
The Community Builders and Macy’s are both partners in
, a workforce
development effort led by the Partnership for New Communities that in the past five
years has helped 5,000 public housing residents prepare for work, find a job,
and remain employed. As of June 2008, the Partnership’s $5 million investment
in Opportunity Chicago has leveraged $18 million in public funding from CHA,
Illinois, and the Mayor’s Office of Workforce
At a recent MPC Building Successful Mixed-Income Communities Forum
, Cross said the
assistance she received from Michails was invaluable in helping her find a good
job she enjoys. She encouraged fellow public housing residents to "get behind
their fears" and take advantage of programs like Opportunity Chicago to become