TEMPE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) — Ron Ackerman was once a small business owner in California, but a car crash drove him down a dark path.
“In 2008, I was in a car accident, and I was put on pain medication, and that led down a bad road of addiction and homeless for about five years,” explained Ackerman.
After 15 years, Ackerman got clean, but he says finding a job wasn’t easy. “When you are homeless, it’s tough bringing everything you own to a job interview,” said Ackerman.
Luckily, he was able to enroll in Tempe Works.
“Not only do we offer a full-time job, we offer housing and wrap-around services,” says Tempe Vice Mayor Randy Keating.
Keating brought the idea to Tempe City Council, and it was adapted in 2018. Since then, 41 people have been a part of Tempe Works. Nineteen have stayed off the streets.
Right now, three people are enrolled in Tempe Works. Participants either work for the Parks and Recreation Department or Public Works. Keating says Tempe Works isn’t just about getting a job and a place to stay.
“IDs, clothes, shoes…again, we try to give people a real shot at self-sufficiency,” said Keating.
The City of Tempe gave the program a $22,000 boost to hire a part-time coordinator to help find more opportunities for participants. Right now, the Human Resources Department is requesting an additional $60,000 to make the position full-time.
Because of the program, Ackerman says he gained back his independence. Now, he is five years sober, owns his own car, has his own place to stay, and volunteers at homeless shelters as a way to give back.
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