HUD Deputy Secretary Visits Renowned Training Program
PHA Executive Director Carl Greene (left) shows HUD Deputy Secretary Ron Sims one of the work areas at the PHA Pre-Apprenticeship training program center where students learn to install plumbing and kitchen cabinets.
Deputy Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ron Sims saw federal tax dollars at work during his visit to Philadelphia. He joined Philadelphia Housing Authority Executive Director Carl Greene on a driving tour of public housing sites and a visit to the agency's acclaimed Pre-Apprenticeship training program.

PHA's Pre-Apprenticeship program, in coordination with Philadelphia's building trades unions, is designed to prepare public housing residents for entry into approved apprenticeships in various trades. It provides students with academic, life skills and vocational training.

Sims toured the classrooms, met students and got a first hand look at the program's success when he met several graduates who have entered PHA's work force as part of its innovative Maintenance WAVE (Weatherization and Value Enhancement) crews.

Addressing the program graduates, PHA residents and others who had gathered in South Philadelphia to meet him, Sims said, "I am not allowed to say which is my favorite, so I will say this is one of the more remarkable housing authorities in the country."

To the Pre-Apprenticeship students and graduates, he added, "We look forward to seeing your skills, your talents and your expertise. Not only are you builders, but we want you to own the companies that are building as well."

During the visit, Executive Director Greene explained that the program includes practical hands on training, that there has been a focused effort to increase the number of female participants, and that PHA strives to maintain a well balanced effort including life skills and basic education training as well as post-graduation follow up and mentoring.

"We want to produce graduates who are not only sound in the building trades, but who have gained well-rounded skills that will help them succeed at work and in life. And, this does not end when they conclude the program. We remain in contact with the graduates, providing job placement assistance and mentorship as they enter their professional trades," Greene said.

Thus far, 601 residents have graduated from the program, 310 of whom have entered the construction trades. These jobs are positions at union scale wages with benefits, resulting from certified apprenticeships in the building and construction trades program and PHA's new partnership with industrial employment opportunities.

During the visit Sims also got a look at a number of PHA's housing developments in north Philadelphia, including Richard Allen and Cambridge Homes and the PHA community center.