Texas Health Providing Job Opportunities to Homeless

Featured, Health

Non-specific person shaking the hand of a homeless person. | Image from Getty Images

Texas Health Dallas is working to help people who are homeless get back on their feet through a new partnership with Austin Street Center. 

The partnership helps to match candidates at Austin Street to employment opportunities within Texas Health. Jim Parobek, President of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, came up with the idea. He said he saw a need for employment for homeless individuals. 

“Lack of employment can be a hefty barrier for those trying to lift themselves out of homelessness and the health disadvantages that so often come with it,” Parobek said in a press release. “If we can extend a helping hand, we not only acquire talented employees, but we can also hopefully put these men and women on a path toward a better, healthier life.”

Each shelter client is screened for openings at the hospital to decide if they would fit any needs. Clients also receive assistance creating their resumes and sending applications out. 

Parobek said the alliance is another way that Texas Health is working to improve the health and well-being of North Texans. Since starting the collaboration, twelve interviews have been set, with four ultimately becoming Texas Health employees.

“The first four we hired were full-time jobs with full wages and benefits,” Parobek said in an interview with The Dallas Express

One of those hires, Rodney Howard, is quickly becoming a success story. Howard took shelter at Austin Street after becoming homeless due to familial situations and a hospital stay for his diabetes. He was living in his car before his hospitalization. After he was released, he found everything he had, including his car, was gone. It all had been repossessed. 

Howard was initially hired through the partnership with Austin Street and Texas Health Dallas to work in food and nutrition services. However, after only six weeks, Parobek said he is already getting a new job title. Employers became aware of Howard’s background and a degree in finance and found him an opportunity to excel.

“That’s what he was doing before he had a number of crises hit that he then became homeless,” Parobek explained.

“It’s opportunity, it’s hope… but the number one thing this situation has done for me is healing,” Howard said in a press release. “You get up, talk to people, you work, you get breathing fresh air. I’m starting to heal now.”

The pairing between Texas Health Dallas and Austin Street stems from the year and a half project Health to Home, a medical respite program. Organizations like City Square, a housing nonprofit, work together to provide healthcare to the homeless. Health to Home started out of a need for homeless individuals to get proper care and maintain their health after leaving the hospital. 

“The emergency room is the entry point for health care for most people that are homeless. They don’t have insurance. They don’t have a primary care physician, so if they get sick, they come to the emergency room,” said Parobek. 

The program gives those who get approved to stay at Austin House for 30 to 45 days. Participants receive help getting back on their feet and finding employment during their stay. 

Sharon Chisholm, the human resources officer for Texas Health Dallas, told The Dallas Express, “Our goal really is helping them to find meaningful and sustainable employment, to start putting their lives back together.” 

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