CDFI: the Reinvestment Fund
Loan type: Welfare-to-work loan
Care Associates provides home care for the elderly and disabled throughout
the city of Philadelphia. The company is unusual in a number of ways:
it has an intensive training program for prospective employees, most of
the home-care worker and office staff have come from public assistance,
and it is worker owned. Unlike many welfare-to-work programs, Home Care
Associates is committed to providing the people they train with quality
jobs, jobs that are full time, pay a living wage, and have health benefits.
Cannon, trainer and member of the board of directors says, "It's
hard work because I'm also on the board of directors. It's not as easy
as people think it is to run a company. You have a lot of different issues
to deal with, figuring out what is best for the company as well as for
the workers who are out there in the field. Sometimes you come out of
there with headaches from a board meeting, but its a good headache.
I enjoy being part of Home Care Associates, seeing it grow and taking
on different challenges."
When Home Care Associates began to expand and needed capital, they ran
into problems finding a bank that would lend them money, given their worker-owned
structure and their lack of lengthy credit history. They approached The
Reinvestment Fund, a Philadelphia-based CDFI, who gave them encouragement,
technical assistance, and a working capital loan. The Reinvestment Fund
was not scared off by the fact that Home Care Associates was a worker-owned
company of former welfare recipients. In fact, the Reinvestment Fund was
completely supportive of their mission.
Scott Gordon, Manager, Home Care Associates: "Home Care Associates
is about providing opportunity for people to succeed at work. We run a
job training program that is focused on allowing people to gather social
skills and problem solving skills. We run a company that tries to create
good jobs; we run a job-coaching program that tries to help people succeed
in that first job. Were also trying to direct people to get additional
education to make sure they continue to succeed at work. Most of the staff
here are folks who came from public assistance, have trained through our
program, and now are running this company. So we are about making that
transition and looking forward towards success.
"The second thing we are really about is quality service. We run
a home care agency here and we believe that when people have good jobs,
when they are well trained, that the elderly we help get better quality
care. We are emphatic about standards regarding care for our patients.
"Running a worker-owned company may, in some respects, be more difficult
than running a traditional company. But frankly, its just plain
more fun. I like when people are smiling. I like when people believe in
what they do. To me, its the only way. When you gotta work forty
or fifty or sixty hours a week, you want to believe in what you do and
you want to be surrounded by people who are happy and engaged. Running
a worker-owned company helps that happen."
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