The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has announced the release of $2.75 million in additional National Emergency Grant (NEG) funds for the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program (EKCEP) to continue efforts through its Hiring Our Miners Everyday (H.O.M.E.) initiative to support families impacted by layoffs in the region’s coal industry.
The Department of Labor and U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez announced the latest round of funding on Tuesday, Oct. 27, noting the award will assist current H.O.M.E. participants along with additional new enrollments expected in the coming months. Since January 2012, layoffs have left more than 8,000 coal workers in the 23-county EKCEP service area out of work and in search of new employment.
H.O.M.E. provides an array of re-employment services to out-of-work miners and their spouses. EKCEP Executive Director Jeff Whitehead said this latest DOL award will keep those services in place for hundreds of H.O.M.E. enrollees until they can complete training to enter into new careers.
“The ongoing decline in Eastern Kentucky’s coal industry has led to unprecedented need for the region’s workforce,” Whitehead said. “These funds will ensure that H.O.M.E. can help meet those needs for many coal workers who are dealing with the effects of recent job loss. We are very grateful that the Department of Labor and Secretary Perez are continuing to support both the region’s workers and our efforts to serve them.”
The original NEG award for H.O.M.E. of $5.2 million was approved in March 2013, while the Department of Labor provided an additional $7.5 million in May 2014. This latest award brings the total funds allocated for the H.O.M.E. program to $15.4 million.
To date, more than 2,200 people have enrolled for assistance through H.O.M.E. More than 1,100 people have gained new employment, and nearly 725 have entered into training programs to begin new careers.
With its new Community Impact initiative, EKCEP is also working to bring critical services to unemployed Eastern Kentuckians in employment sectors outside the coal industry that experienced declines due to the shrinking coal economy, including everything from retail, heavy equipment sales and service, manufacturing, and others. In May, the Department of Labor awarded nearly $7.5 million in NEG funds for the program, which began assisting jobseekers earlier this year.