Sep. 6, 2016 10:36 am

#WeNeedToWork wants government job programs for reentrants and people with disabilities

Subsidized job programs can help break the cycle of poverty and cut public spending. That's why Community Legal Services and Redeemed have launched an effort to introduce programs in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania at large.

#WeNeedToWork is pushing for subsidized jobs programs.

(Photo by Flickr user Jeremy Sternberg, used under a Creative Commons license)

If urban poverty’s greatest enemy is gainful employment, its greatest allies are the policies that keep economic stability out of reach.

They’re the policies that largely keep impoverished young adults, people with criminal backgrounds and people with disabilities locked in a cycle of poverty.

But public policy can be changed.

That’s why nonprofits Community Legal Services (CLS) and Redeemed are coming together to drum up support for subsidized job programs in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania at large with a campaign called #WeNeedToWork. The campaign calls for the implementation of subsidized programs that will place people in government or public service jobs and create incentives for small businesses to make new hires. Those programs would be paid for using existing public funds.

This should have bipartisan support, according to CLS Litigation Director Sharon Dietrich.

“Jobs programs aren’t just liberal or conservative anti-poverty solutions,” said Dietrich in a statement.  “People on both side of the political aisle recognize that jobs programs save taxpayer money while fighting poverty. It’s more cost-effective to create a job than to incarcerate someone or house someone experiencing homelessness.”

That should bend the ear of taxpayers who might be hesitant to support public spending. According to a recent Georgetown University study, job programs can help cut the public costs of incarceration and homelessness services. In effect, the programs would help break the cycle of recidivism local reentry advocate and filmmaker El Sawyer has dubbed the “pull of gravity.”

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#WeNeedToWork marks the second CLS campaign collaboration for Redeemed founder Bill Cobb, the first being a successful push to improve Philadelphia’s fair hiring law earlier this year. It’s also notably the first campaign Cobb has helped spearhead since officially launching the criminal justice reform nonprofit last month.

It’s fitting, considering Cobb’s mission is to mobilize the vote of Philadelphia’s reentrant population. Those interested in supporting #WeNeedToWork can sign a petition at


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