Home Care Associates
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
CDFI: the Reinvestment Fund
Loan type: Welfare-to-work loan

Home 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.

Terrell 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 it’s 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. We’re 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, it’s just plain more fun. I like when people are smiling. I like when people believe in what they do. To me, it’s 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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