A group gathered at 1911 Church St. to call for jobs on Y.O.U.’s new building proposed for that site.                                                                          RoundTable photo

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On Sept. 15, a group of about 15 people associated with the Committee for Community Development (CCD) gathered at a vacant lot at 1911 Church St. and urged that Youth & Opportunity United (Y.O.U.) hire minorities who live in the area to work on the construction of Y.O.U.’s new building that is proposed for that location.

Belva Hill, a spokesperson for CCD, said they wanted Y.O.U. to pledge to hire minority youth from the community and to train them through an apprenticeship, so they have an opportunity to work and to grow. “I’m going to say the passion is the underemployed,” said Ms. Hill. “Unfortunately right now, the underemployed is the young black male. There are also women who are heads of households who need the same opportunity to be able to feed their families.”

“There’s a young man here who needs a job, he needs a job at union wages,” said Lonnie Wilson, one of the organizers of the demonstration. “They’re about to build a $1 million building here. The unions have shut us out because we can’t afford to get into the unions. … A lot of it has to be in the planning, the implementation of how things are designed to include the people who live here. … There’s ways to do it. If they want to do it, there’s ways to do it.”

Seth Green, executive director of Y.O.U., told the RoundTable, “We’ve had many personal feedback meetings with community members and public community meetings, and we deeply value the input from the community, and we want this project to be as successful for the community as it can be.”

He said the bidding for the construction of the building will not take place until January. “We are still developing the plan for that process,” said Mr. Green. “As an agency, we are committed to opportunities, and we are planning both to give special consideration to local hiring and for the hiring of minority and women-owned businesses.

“We are really excited about how this building will expand educational opportunities for youth and families and be a resource in the community,” Mr. Green added.