The Road From Homelessness To A Construction Job

Trying to stretch your dollar can be a hefty task for most people just trying to make it; especially those who are dealing with the high cost of living in the New York City area. Now add being homeless to the equation.

One individual who became familiar with the unfortunate issue was Howard Young. As a proud, single father of a 12-year-old boy, Mr. Young found himself homeless and without a job. He was looking for work consistently and one day was given contact information from an employee at Ready Willing and Able, a social service organization here in New York City. That contact information led Mr. Young to  Building Skills New York. He was able to secure an interview and then secure a construction job through this organization.

The Building Skills NY organization helped Mr. Young attain OSHA 30 training and got him the construction job with the Arker Company; a commercial real estate development which has created over 4,000 housing units and nearly 1 million square feet of commercial office space. 

Young’s story comes as the Coalition for Homeless released information this past May stating that there were 61,129 homeless people sleeping each night in the municipal shelter system. Families make up nearly three-quarters of that homeless shelter population. There are several reasons for homelessness from job loss, domestic violence situations to lack of affordable housing. There are continuous efforts to remedy the issue however, it has been fruitless thus far. 

Kings County Politics was able to speak with Young about his experience with the program and what it did for him. 

Howard Young

KCP: How did you get involved with Building Skills New York?

Howard Young: I got a contact number from someone over at Ready, Willing and Able and set up an interview with Glenn Hilzen. Once I walked in the building it felt like home immediately. I did the interview and got the job a couple days later. 

Was construction something you were always interested in?

Yes, all my life. I’ve always had an interest and experience in the field.

How did this experience help put you in a position to secure a home and get back on your feet?

Well, I was traveling all the time…pretty much since my son was 2 years old trying to find something stable. After I got my job from Mr. Glenn, I was able to find somewhere to live in the Bronx. Now I get to spend more time with my son and not have to worry about my financial situation. I feel forever grateful to them for what they’ve done. Anyone I run into, I give them numbers so that they can get help the same way I did. 

Since working with BSNY, Howard has referred two other individuals who had fallen on hard times in which the organization has successfully placed them as well. The non-profit organization’s mission is to help provide underserved New Yorkers who are mostly minorities, with economic opportunities leading them to construction careers. They carefully vet each candidate to ensure they are work-ready with the experience and skills required by various job sites. 

If you or anyone you know is interested in the construction field and would like to work please contact them at or you can visit their office at 570 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY.10022