John Edward Dallas, who grew up in Baruch Houses, was recently honored by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs for his record-setting work as a financial counselor for Jobs-Plus.
A national program with nine sites in New York City, Jobs-Plus helps public housing residents become economically self-sufficient. According to the Jobs-Plus philosophy, getting a job is the first step; the second step is continued financial counseling – even after a participant lands a job.
Mr. Dallas has held more counseling sessions than any other employee at his Jobs-Plus site in Brooklyn, which is operated by the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, a community-based organization, and REES Zone Partner. Most sessions are one-on-one and in-person. He and his clients discuss issues around bank accounts, student loans, debt collection, and credit
In his counseling sessions, Mr. Dallas emphasizes how NYCHA residents have access to resources and programs that can help them advance economically, and that public housing provides a pathway to all kinds of opportunities. He believes that this approach has contributed to his award-winning success as a financial counselor.
Mr. Dallas explains that his own background has greatly influenced his style of work. He sees his personal journey to economic independence as proof that low-income does not mean limited opportunities. One of the job’s most rewarding aspects for Mr. Dallas is the chance to serve the NYCHA community. “It’s a spiritual homecoming for me, an actual giving back to my community,” he said. “I am honored to help residents achieve knowledge and skills that could facilitate their pursuit of the American dream through financial competence, financial stability, and financial self-reliance.”
The efforts of Mr. Dallas and his Jobs-Plus colleagues are paying off: average earnings increased by 16 percent for residents in developments with a Jobs-Plus program, and remained at that level for three years following the end of the program.
Registering to participate in the Jobs-Plus program is simple. According to Mr. Dallas, a resident just has to provide ID and proof that they live in a public housing development, such as a piece of mail addressed to them. “We will help you find work and help you get your financial house in order,” he promises.