Funding is near, approvals are in for 'reverse commuting'; Program to help jobless from other areas fill openings in Howard


A long-awaited federal grant intended to help pay to transport people from Baltimore's impoverished empowerment zones to reach jobs going begging in booming Howard County is finally here -- almost.

The $653,760 grant is part of a $4.2 million federal, state and local effort. It is designed to connect jobless Baltimore residents -- some of whom are on welfare -- with companies unable to fill positions that pay up to $12 an hour.

County officials announced the program at a Dorsey hotel breakfast in March, and it was hoped then that the program, called "reverse commuting," would be operating by July.

But delays in getting the federal money held up the program. Carl S. Balser, Howard County's transportation planner, said the funds have not arrived, but the approvals are in, and contracts with private transportation companies should be completed by the end of next month.

Originally, the plan was to find workers for jobs mainly in the U.S. 1 commercial corridor, where warehouse and trucking companies need employees, especially for late shifts. But Balser said that idea has changed, and jobs available in other places, such as Columbia and Ellicott City, also will be filled, if possible. The goal is to enroll 120 people in the first year and expand that to several hundred.

Pub Date: 9/23/99

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