Homeless staffing agency ‘growing and thriving’ in Tacoma

Long exposure shot of Tacoma Dome and I-5 traffic

TACOMA, Wash – There’s plenty of bad news about the homeless crisis, but if you look there’s good news about groups making a real difference as well.

Valeo Vocation in Tacoma is one of those groups helping people move from homeless to housed.

Valeo is a non-profit temporary staffing agency. It partners with client businesses in need of temporary workers and then it places those temps where needed. The temps themselves are actually clients who are struggling with homelessness. Valeo pays their wages and helps them navigate their way into fulltime employment.

Valeo has been in existence for just over 6 months and its unique model appears to be working.

“We are growing and thriving,” says Valeo’s Greg Walker.

Walker says they’ve moved 10 clients into permanent living wage jobs and helped 6 households go from homelessness to housed.

“We’ve paid out over $76,700 in wages to 52 client,” says Walker.

A majority of Valeo’s budget comes from client businesses that hire temporary works through the non-profit. A minority of the group’s budget comes from partner organizations and grants.

Walker says Valeo is also working on a new civic partnership.

“We have been piloting a Transitional Employment Program (TEP) with City of Tacoma to help individuals living in the Stability Site (City-sanctioned tent-city) with high barriers to employment (chronic homeless, active substance abuse issues, etc) who don’t have a high probability of success going straight to work on one of our commercial contracts,” says Walker.

The TEP program allows clients to work part time for a local nonprofit.

“Where they hold a regular work assignment and schedule, are supervised like any other employee, and receive the opportunity to get back in the habit of working, while earning an income,” says Walker.

During the process clients are coached and mentored on appropriate work behaviors and skills. They also receive support with substance abuse and behavioral health issues to help them succeed in the workforce.

“We just placed one of our first cohort of TEP participants in a permanent position this week,” says Walker. “Another TEP client successfully completed inpatient treatment for substance abuse, then moved into housing upon graduation (Valeo provided rent assistance for three months). She is working successfully in her TEP assignment, and we are planning to transition her to a full-time commercial contract soon.”

Valeo has been operating our of a Tacoma office that has remained under construction even as it works to move more people out of homelessness. Walker says they hope to be finished with the office buildout soon.

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