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BUILD: Jobs Program Hits Major Roadblock With Lack Of Funds From Mayor

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BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Their motto is catching attention: don’t arrest me, hire me. A local community group is committed to putting city residents to work and keeping them out of prison. But BUILD says its jobs program has hit a major roadblock with the mayor.

Mary Bubala reports a protest is scheduled for Tuesday night over the lack of funding.

East Baltimore’s Oliver neighborhood struggles with unemployment and crime.

But Rev. Calvin Keene says he and 200 other BUILD leaders from 40 congregations and schools across Baltimore City are ready to put people back to work.

“The public safety in this community and around the city is connected to the lack of jobs for the underemployed communities. I think there is a direct connection between the crime and unemployment in those communities,” said Rev. Keene, Memorial Baptist Church pastor.

BUILD has raised $1.2 million and has asked the city to contribute $600,000 over three years to fully fund the program.

“The mayor said no. She said the city does not have the funds. We say yes, we are going to put the people to work anyway,” Keene said.

Tuesday, the mayor responded to BUILD as she visited a program at BCCC that trains and certifies students for jobs in high growth industries like health care.

“It seems as if they are working off an old model, that there were direct funds through the federal government and the city just wrote checks to people who said they wanted to do training,” Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said. “That doesn’t exist anymore, and in this new economy if you want to provide training you have to get certified.”

“I’m an ex-offender who wants to stay an ex-offender,” said 30-year-old Dominic Rabey.

One of those who desperately wants a job is Rabey. The ex-offender wants to support his family and stay out of prison.

“People want to work, but if they are not given the opportunity and the resources they seem to go back to what they know, which is the street life,” Rabey said.

“The most underemployed and unemployed are ex-offenders in our community who have been involved in Baltimore’s other economy, and we want to put them to work and they want to go to work,” Keene said.

Tuesday night, hundreds are gathering at Memorial Baptist Church at 6:30 p.m. in East Baltimore for a rally over this jobs funding issue with the city.

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