The Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency has been awarded a $7,500 grant from Regions Bank for the continued support of MDHA’s Work Readiness Program Revolving Loan Fund. This funding will support 250 individuals with workforce barrier removal assistance and facilitate $200,000 in waived legal fees by Aug. 31, 2024.
MDHA’s Work Readiness Program works with individuals to help identify their workforce barriers and advocate for their removal. One tool is the Revolving Loan Fund, a self-replenishing pool of money, utilizing payments on old loans to issue new ones. These no-interest small loans increase economic prosperity by removing fees and legal barriers for individuals earning limited to no income. They also prevent risky payday loans and support removal of various workforce barriers. These include payment of tickets, fines, court costs, expunction fees, eyeglasses for the driver’s license vision test, birth certificates, removing criminal record barriers and/or driver education costs that were cost prohibitive in obtaining a valid driver’s license.
“The Work Readiness program put me in a position where I can do more at work. I no longer have to wait on someone else for a ride, and I am able to transport tools more efficiently.”
One such program participant is Keon, who moved to Nashville in 2019. Keon was excelling at work, but in order to get promoted, he needed a valid driver’s license. MDHA’s Stephanie Harris, who oversees MDHA’s Work Readiness Program, issued loans to help him pay outstanding fees to release the hold on his driver’s license. He passed his driver’s test and earned his license in August. With his driver’s license in hand, Keon was quickly promoted to maintenance technician. He is one of 25 MDHA employees who has had workforce barriers removed through the program and was subsequentially promoted.
“The Work Readiness program put me in a position where I can do more at work,” Keon said. “I no longer have to wait on someone else for a ride, and I am able to transport tools more efficiently.”
Since 2020, Harris has helped reinstate more than 175 driver’s licenses in eight states, issued more than 350 loans and facilitated registrations for more than 600 expunction and indigency clinics.
“This program changes lives. Not only can it provide needed financial assistance, but also continued direction, encouragement and support with navigating additional barriers until the process is complete and they are able to advance.”
“This program changes lives,” Harris said. “Not only can it provide needed financial assistance, but also continued direction, encouragement and support with navigating additional barriers until the process is complete and they are able to advance.”
This is the third year MDHA has received a grant from Regions Bank to support MDHA’s Work Readiness Program, totaling $32,500 in awards. Since it began in late 2019, the Work Readiness Program has helped waive more than $800,000 in legal fees and served more than 1,440 individuals with workforce barrier removal assistance nationwide.