Cross-posted from DES Express

Thanks to the new Jobs and Housing Program recently unveiled by Executive Constantine, at least two DES divisions will be getting extra help and people experiencing homelessness will be gaining job skills and support to transition to permanent housing. Regional Animal Services (RASKC) and Fleet Services are both hiring temporary workers through the program, which is part of the pandemic recovery package.

Regional Animal Services

“We help people in the community, and this is another way to expand our hug to a different group in need with the hope that pets will help them,” said Gene Mueller, RASKC manager.

RASKC will be hiring one to four animal care technicians into one-year TLT positions. People interested in the jobs need only be comfortable around domestic animals; RASKC will provide training. The new hires will help care for more than 100 cats, 30 to 40 dogs, along with rabbits and other small mammals.

“Our interest is helping them stabilize as they are going through their housing opportunities, we hope to provide them an opportunity to learn skills around animal handling and care that can translate well in the business environment,” Mueller said. He noted that pet businesses have boomed in the pandemic, with the increase in pets in homes.

“This is going to be a win-win with our staff because we’re hoping it will provide some additional time for our full-time staff to do more dog behavior interventions,” Mueller said. He explained that staff will be able to get dogs into playgroups and focus on training.

Over the next month, RASKC staff will be working with the Performance, Strategy and Budget office and the Department of Natural Resources and Parks to create a presentation to attract interested job applicants, Mueller said.

Fleet Services

Fleet will be hiring two to three people to provide services that Fleet either contracts out or doesn’t have enough staff to perform.

“We are looking at getting folks to help detail vehicles, help clean and sanitize – work we’ve been struggling to take care of because of lack of staff,” said Chris Gavigan, Fleet Operations Manager.

“There are some things we haven’t been able to do before,” he added. “My goal here is I’d like to clean vehicles more often, pressure wash them, and see if this makes sense to have as a permanent job.”

Applicants need to have a Washington State driver license but wouldn’t need any experience or a personal vehicle.

“We will get them a bus pass through this program. Our facilities are easy to get to by bus,” Gavigan said. “We would supply the gear, the cleaning supplies, coveralls and protective clothing.”

“I’m hoping that when some of these folks come in, they see the self-satisfaction (of working here),” he said. “We can help further their skill sets and they can become a part of this group.”

Gavigan likened the program to the apprenticeship program or an internship.

“I’ve got a high school intern that we’ve had working who is seeing this as a career,” Gavigan explained.

And that’s the goal.

Gavigan said Fleet staff initially expressed some concerns about hiring people experiencing homelessness. He brought a list of questions before committing to the program and all the questions were answered.

“I was assured that these are folks that want to work, these are helping people that want to help themselves,” Gavigan said. “This is not someone out getting in trouble all the time.”

He hopes to have new folks hired and on board before the end of the year.