Post by Matt Holland, Homeless Initiative Program
What is the importance of the City County Council’s decision to pass the Ban the Box initiative for those applying to the City of Indianapolis and their vendors?
The 26-2 decision by the City County Council to pass a local Ban the Box initiative potentially has a large impact on those searching for employment in Marion County. This impact will not be immediately
felt by individuals with criminal histories unless applying to these entities in the near future, but hopes are high that this trickles to private employers to consider those recovering from past mistakes.
With the most recent numbers showing 5,000 individuals exiting from prison per year into Marion County, this is an important victory for those trying to get back on the employment track. Many ex-offenders have plenty of positive skills to provide to employers but have difficulty getting back into employment and finding employers that are willing to give those with past convictions a second chance. All that is needed is an opportunity to get their “foot into the door” in order to sell themselves to the employers. This decision gives hope to those searching for employment that their criminal history may not be an immediate barrier to this process. If they can sell the employer on their skill sets, they can then address the criminal history with an opportunity to explain what they have done since their conviction to choose a different path and learn from their past mistakes.
Employers often tell me that they have some flexibility to consider applicants with criminal history but that the challenge is really preparing those with this barrier on how to provide “proof” that this decision making process is different and that they truly have learned from their mistakes. This falls on employment professionals within our county to prepare these individuals properly so that they can speak about past poor choices and how that affected their life in a positive manner.
If you have the ability and desire to help those struggling to find employment opportunities or practice building interview skills, please contact Matt Holland at 317-957-2275 for our Mock Interviewing with employment ready individuals that we facilitate every two weeks. We also are seeking private employers that are interested in providing opportunities to those in our community that are transitioning out of a situation of homelessness back into society in order to be productive members of our community.
For more information about HealthNet’s Homeless Initiative Program, please visit www.indyhealthnet.org.