Building a New Path: Construction Company Hires Homeless Veterans - NBC Southern California
Streets of Shame

Streets of Shame

Southern California's Homelessness Epidemic

Building a New Path: Construction Company Hires Homeless Veterans

"You cannot find better workers. They are highly intelligent, they are excellent at what they do and they're really motivated."

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    A local construction company is giving homeless veterans a chance to get back on their feet at a Playa Del Vista site.

    Dyllon Manown is 25 years old and a U.S. Air Force veteran who used to work on convoys handling nuclear warheads. Now he's posting up pillars at this soon-to-be four-story office building.

    But this is Manown on a good day, after months of very bad ones.

    "I didn't have a home to go to," he said.

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    When he was discharged in 2017, he said he hoped to get a job working on cars like a lot of his relatives. He ended up on the street instead, couch-surfing or sometimes living in his truck.

    "I pretty much came out blind," he said. "I couldn't afford the rent, making $200 a week. Wasn't much I could do. Now I've got over $800 a week after taxes."

    It's the job that changed everything, and a new idea the local carpenters' union is pushing to add to its ranks - that housing alone won't end homelessness but jobs will.

    "What the union really does is give people a second chance, a new pathway, a new career. It gives them benefits, a steady salary, income, job and gets them back on their feet,"said Amanda Corbet of McCarthy Builders.

    McCarthy Builders hired Manown and a dozen other homeless vets in Los Angeles in just the last year.

    "You cannot find better workers. They are highly intelligent, they are excellent at what they do and they're really motivated. So we get the best possible people working on our projects," Corbet said.

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    Manown said it's a pretty good gig for him as well: every six months he gets a raise and pretty soon he won't be an apprentice, but a full-fledged journeyman.

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