Project LIFT expands our role in helping families

Hamilton County Job and Family Services is excited to be part of a new effort to lift local families and support them on their way to self-sufficiency.

Project LIFT will launch in January, a $5 million, public/private effort to remove barriers to self-sufficiency and help families thrive.

Led by the Child Poverty Collaborative, LIFT aims to help 1,000 families (3,000 individuals) in its first year.

I have been involved with the Poverty Collaborative since its inception. I was asked to take a more active role over the past year and gladly accepted. Helping move people from poverty to self-sufficiency is important to everyone at the county, especially the Board of County Commissioners.

For JFS, much of this new effort is expanding on work we already do. We are already helping hundreds of thousands of county residents with food assistance, medical care, child care, employment services and more as they try to stabilize in emergency situations and move forward to a better place.

You will see those efforts in the LIFT project. They will be accompanied by private funding that will allow for more flexibility and case management services. The goal is to infuse resources into our most economically disadvantaged communities.

One example: our Millvale Project. We will house Hamilton County Job and Family Services staff in the neighborhood. Those on-site staff will provide all the services currently provided through our Community Link and Comprehensive Case Management and Employment Program to residents in that neighborhood, rather than have them visit offices downtown. We will partner with existing community resources to ensure that participants have access to all the services they need in their own neighborhood.

Another example is the expansion of our Prevention, Retention and Contingency program. The PRC program does one of three things for low-income county residents:

  • Helps them avoid or escape public assistance
  • Helps them get or keep a job
  • Helps them manage a one-time unexpected expense

This is the kind of flexible money that can be used to fix a car so someone can make it to work and not lose their job. Or, pay for a work uniform needed to start a job. Or, someone with a one-time emergency expense, such as utilities or rent.

Previously, eligibility for this program was for those earning 150 percent or less of the poverty level and they could receive up to $500 of help per year. We have expanded the program to those earning 200 percent or less of the poverty level and are allowing them to access $3,000 in assistance per year. We are also partnering with community organizations to identify people who need this service.  

When PRC money is paired with private money that is even more flexible, it is possible to provide wrap-round services and case management that can have life-changing effect on a family.

Wrap-around funding is one of the principles of LIFT:

  • Employment
  • Flexible service coordination
  • Transportation solutions
  • Wrap-around funding
  • Community outreach and engagement.

We want to max out all the public dollars and make sure they’re receiving every benefit they can possibly receive. But we know from experience that is not enough and they will need more. LIFT will do more.

To read more about Project Lift, click here.

We are excited to be at the table with the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce, the United Way of Greater Cincinnati, the Cincinnati-Hamilton County Community Action Agency, Urban League, Easter Seals, Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority, the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, and many more members of the business, social services and faith communities in this effort.

Collectively, we can change lives.

by Jane Prendergast

Filed Under: From the Director

Tagged: Cincinnati Poverty Collaborative, community link, food assistance, hamilton county department of job and family services, hamilton county job and family services, jobs, medicaid, moira weir, ohio works first, owf, poverty, poverty collaborative, project lift