How Philly is revitalizing a widely unused tax credit program for hiring returning citizens - Generocity Philly

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Jun. 22, 2017 11:37 am

How Philly is revitalizing a widely unused tax credit program for hiring returning citizens

The Fair Chance Hiring Initiative, starting July 1, is meant to replace a program that was created to encourage businesses to hire Philadelphians returning from prison.

Finding a job can be the hardest, yet most important, thing to do for citizens getting out of prison.

(Photo via Flickr user Flazingo Photos, used under a Creative Commons license)

As it’s been made clear time and time again, finding a job is one of the most important factors that help those returning from prison to find success and avoid the hugely consequential problem of recidivism Philly is trying to tackle.

To encourage more companies to hire returning citizens, a practice that has shown to reap benefits for both employer and employee, the city’s Department of Commerce announced yesterday it’s launching the Fair Chance Hiring Initiative (FCHI), a pilot program meant to provide reimbursements to businesses that participate in this sort of open hiring.

The program, set to begin July 1, would provide reimbursements in the form of grants in the hope of becoming an eventual replacement to the Philadelphia Re-Entry Program (PREP) Tax Credit program, which was introduced nine years ago.

According to the press statement from Senior Deputy Commerce Director for Business Development Duane Bomb, FCHI is directed toward “simplifying the application process and accelerating the return on investment for employers,” compared to PREP.

Philly.com reported on how ineffective PREP really was — only $472,124 tax credits were issued out of $80 million available for the program in its nine-year run, with only 24 businesses having participated.

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FCHI is being introduced as a pilot program and is hoping to support up to 100 jobs in its first year, with a total of $500,000 available to give away. Here’s the list of requirements:

  • The returning citizen had to have been released from prison within the last five years.
  • Hired employees must work a minimum of 21 hours per week and be paid at least $12.10 per hour.
  • All employees must be approved by the Mayor’s Office of Reintegration Services for Ex-Offenders (RISE).

After said employee has been working for six months, businesses can then be reimbursed for $5 per hour worked, up to $5,000 per person.

Bob Logue, owner of Quaker City Coffee Co., the coffee roasting company that’s made it a mission to employ people with criminal records, told Philly.com how this new initiative is “transformative” for both returning citizens and small businesses like his.

“For a small business owner, cash flow is paramount,” Logue said. “This is a simple business plan. You calculate your business on a 12-month cycle, so you can literally do the math. You know in six months, you’ll get $5 for every hour worked.”

Interested employers can find the application here.

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