Employment & Housing Trust Market

EHTM at a glance

The Challenge: Former offenders often struggle to find employment & housing because employers & landlords are reluctant to take a chance. Employment and housing struggles play overwhelming roles in the pressures that can push even the most determined former offenders off the tracks.

The Support Framework: The Employment & Housing Trust Market will demand robust efforts to reach critical mass. This means changing minds by sharing success stories, as well as working on the ground with business and civic leaders to build a critical mass of engaged employers, landlords and local municipalities.

The Trust Market: The Employment & Housing Trust Market bridges the chasm that separates supportive employers and landlords from quality candidates with problematic pasts.

    • Primary endorsers are individuals or organizations with good standing who know the candidate and offer confidential assessments, and offer some specified measure of ongoing support going forward.
    • Secondary endorsers are more prominent community leaders or established EHTM endorsers who vouch for less established voices after having looked over the case and interviewed the candidate and his or her endorser.
    • Optional Accountability Peer Groups, which can also be found in the Exchange, are small groups of similarly situated people who share a collective reputation within the Trust Market. APGs serve as guarantors and coaches, helping each other over rough spots and holding each other accountable for delivering as promised. APGs form reputations based on employer feedback, and established APGs can serve as primary or secondary endorsers for new job or housing candidates.
    • Partners are employers or landlords who join the program and hire or house participants.
    • The Exchange is a virtual “meet up” space that allows candidates who currently lack a primary endorser or who need stronger primaries or secondaries to get matched to qualified endorsers or APGs. Partners can also look here for promising “in process” candidates.

Questions & answers

The EHTM program questions for candidates

No. The EHTM is a trust broker, connecting employers who want to help with people of stature in the community who know a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses. Youturn.org does works to seed an ecosystem of landlords, employers, volunteers, and nonprofits committed to mentoring and support, including life skills coaching. But Youturn.org does not itself operate such programs or vet candidates.

Yes and no. Anyone can join the EHTM, as a candidate or endorser. But critical mass will be needed to make it really run, and this will be generated as we identify and develop new regions, working with community and business leaders.

The preferred route is to find at least one primary endorser who submits the candidate’s profile. Endorser can be ecclesiastical leaders, employers, teachers, neighbors, or family friends—anyone with standing in the community who knows the candidate. An endorser could also be a nonprofit organization.

No. An endorser in good standing may put forward any candidate they choose. But the nature and dates of past convictions are included in the profile. And prospective employers can filter candidates as they see fit.

Yes, as long as they add real value. Candidates should make sure that one or two strong endorsers are not diluted with less valuable ones. More than a small handful may just add clutter.

Yes. Candidates can create personal profiles in a waiting room until they have found a qualified endorser. The waiting room is open to employers and endorser, who may step in and interview candidates in the waiting room.

The role of endorsers

Primary endorsers are people in good standing who have close contact with the job candidate. They offer a balanced strengths and weaknesses assessment and note the nature and frequency of past and ongoing interaction with the candidate. They also outline any ongoing commitment to support to help the candidate navigate logistical hurdles and stresses, to help them make the job work out and stay out of trouble.

Secondary endorsers are more prominent community leaders who know (or get to know) and trust the primary endorser. Their recommendations lends strength to a primary endorser’s’ credibility. Secondaries are a lynchpin of the system, as their high community profile and/or frequent EHTM engagement allow employers to be more confident about recommendations from lesser known figures.

A prospective primary or secondary endorser submits an online application. This includes a brief personal statement, a CV, and at least three references. References for a new endorser from already established endorsers automatically become secondary endorser for the new primary endorser.

No. But having secondaries will strengthen the endorser’s impact. This is most critical when the primary has a low key community or career profile.

This depends on the strength of the primary endorser’s profile. Someone with high standing in the community will need few if any. Candidates and endorsers should make sure that the secondary endorsers are strong. More than a small handful may create more noise than signal.

Only (1) registered partners and (2) secondary endorsers the primary endorser chooses can see endorsements of job and housing candidates, and they can only see those who meet their search criteria. Recommendations are written in confidence, and partners agree to respect those confidences as a condition of participation. Breaching that agreement will be grounds for removal from the program.

It is actually in the candidate’s interest to not see the recommendations, as this provides assurance to employers that the endorser can speak frankly. It is assumed that an endorser will not agree to offer a recommendation unless he views the candidate as a net positive. But there will often be nuances that need to be communicated, weaknesses as well as strengths, and the endorser must be free to do so in confidence.

How employers get info and give feedback

Employers are motivated to join the EHTM initially through social influence from peers and community leaders. They will also quickly learn that great employees can be found in the EHTM, and many will find some tax incentives along the way. The mission of Youturn.org is to “flip the stigma,” which means, to make hiring quality ex-offenders something brag about. To get to that point, we will build the employer network through peer-to-peer networking and persuasion.

Employers fill out a simple online form that asks for some basic information about the company, its size and sector, and the kinds of jobs they are looking to fill. A Youturn.org volunteer will call or email the company to confirm. Employers will also be encouraged to sign the Employer Fair Hiring Pledge, but that is not required.

If an endorsement was clearly and badly in error, an employer may make a report to the moderators, who will investigate. Secondary endorsers will also be notified to allow them to make appropriate corrections in their vetting. If appropriate, the moderators may offer a warning or remove offenders from the system.

Partners will have a simple interface to log outcomes, including how long the candidate stays on the job or in the housing unit and whether they left on their own terms. Youturn.org will track that data for improvement purposes. Partners will also be able to submit updates in both star ratings and verbal reviews.

This remains to be seen, but the provisional answer is, not a public system. The reason is that many if not most endorsers will not be repeat players, and thus will have no rating at all. Ratings systems tend to be less effective when there are fewer data points. We will keep track of partner experiences, however, and weed out bad actors. For the most part, a partner’s assurance rests more in the qualitative measures of an endorser’s trustworthiness in the community.

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