June 28, By Christian Murray
You’ll see them dressed in red overalls sweeping the streets and dumping trash in the commercial districts of Astoria, Woodside, Corona and elsewhere.
These people are workers that are part of what’s known as the ACE workforce program, which helps homeless people get back on their feet by offering them a path to self sufficiency.
The organization in charge of the program is officially called The Association of Community Employment Programs for the Homeless (ACE), a 25-year-old non profit that moved its headquarters from Manhattan to Long Island City earlier this month.
ACE officially opened its new 7,100-square foot space at 30-30 Northern Boulevard yesterday and will use it to train and educate workers. The location houses two classrooms, 20 computer stations, a kitchen area and a common area for employees to relax and work on resumes.
The non profit was based in SoHo prior to the move. The new space is 25 percent larger and less expensive and will allow ACE to offer more services, according to a spokesperson.
ACE serves about 170 people each year, offering recruits paid jobs cleaning the streets as well as supplemental training in various fields. The individuals come from homeless shelters, drug dependency centers as well as prisons.
The workers graduate upon securing a full-time job outside of the program. The organization also provides graduates with aftercare services to ensure that they continue on their pathway to economic security. It is currently working with 400 program graduates.
ACE has extensive partnerships throughout Queens. For instance, there are men and women in red uniforms cleaning spaces in Long Island City, Astoria, Woodside, Jackson Heights, Corona, East Elmhurst and Forest Hills.
ACE is able to pay its workers through grants and allocations received from elected officials. For instance, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer allocates $120,000 each year for ACE to cleanup streets in Woodside and other western Queens neighborhoods. A significant chunk of that money goes to the workers.
Councilmembers Constantinides, Dromm, Koslowitz and Ferreras-Copeland also allocate sums for ACE services in their respective districts.
“I’m proud to support ACE’s good work with funds from my office and am thrilled they have chosen Long Island City to house their new Center,” Van Bramer said in a statement. “Beyond keeping our streets clean, ACE provides an essential public service by offering job training and work opportunities to homeless men and women throughout our city.”