Regarding the April 19 Metro article “Audit: City isn’t enforcing hiring law”
First Source is a D.C. program that requires 51 percent of the hires for jobs in which the District invests $300,000 or more be D.C. residents.
The article noted that more than 4,000 District residents are on the First Source unemployment roll. Unfortunately, neither the article nor the auditor’s report mentioned that there is a regional and national shortage of skilled tradespeople available to fill these jobs. This is true in the District as well. Most of the jobs on these projects require training and skills that most if not all on the unemployed list do not possess. Also, the article does not mention that the law requires licensed and skilled D.C. tradespeople to perform a significant percentage of the work on projects with more than $5 million city investment. People with these skills are already working.
Associated Builders and Contractors of Metro Washington’s members want to hire local residents. Over the years, D.C.’s First Source law has changed, but the results remain the same. ABC has a robust training academy that offers numerous skilled trades and apprenticeship programs and partners with schools, government agencies and community groups to prepare residents for careers in the construction industry.
Contractors should not be punished for not reaching goals and requirements that are unattainable. We will continue to work to find a solution that helps residents find jobs.
Debbie Livingston, Washington
Published by The Washington Post