WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor today announced a National Dislocated Worker Grant for up to $15 million to the Michigan Strategic Fund to assist with humanitarian and recovery efforts resulting from the contaminated water crisis in Flint, Michigan. Of the $15 million announced today, $7.5 million will be released initially to provide temporary employment for eligible individuals to assist with the recovery work, as well as to offer these individuals career and training services to help them find permanent work. Additional funding, up to the amount approved, will be made available as the state demonstrates a continued need for assistance.
In 2015, the Hurley Children’s Hospital in Flint began documenting elevated levels of lead in the blood of its patients. After this phenomenon was traced to the water supply, the Genesee County Health Department issued a “Do Not Drink” advisory to the customers of the Flint Water Treatment Plant, which was followed by numerous state and local emergency declarations in response to the crisis.
“National Dislocated Worker Grants are an important way that the federal government can assist workers, businesses and entire communities as they recover from crisis,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “The investments announced today will help the people of Flint repair the physical damage and care for their neighbors, while also helping put area workers back on track to sustainable careers in and around the community they love.”
The temporary jobs funded through this grant will focus on humanitarian assistance, such as delivering water, water filters, replacement cartridges and lead-testing kits to Flint residents affected by the water contamination. Other activities may include repair, renovation and reconstruction work on the damaged water lines, and subsequent clean up and recycling work. Approximately 400 temporary jobs will be created through these funds.
This funding will also provide career and training services to participants to assist them in finding permanent work. This project will allow temporary workers to offer critical support to the relief operation itself, while also providing them with much-needed workforce development opportunities. Participants will receive structured and soft-skill training, assistance with career planning and connections with local employers.
The National Dislocated Worker Grant program provides resources to states and other eligible applicants to respond to large, unexpected events causing significant job losses. Grants are awarded at the discretion of the secretary of labor under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.