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Homeless Work Program Launches

The Environmental Cleanup Opportunities (ECO) Project, previously known as the Homeless Work Program, formally began today, Monday, July 31st, as crews started on their first project.

“We have worked jointly with the WIB and ABLE Industries to create a transitional jobs program for individuals that are homeless,” says Warren Gubler, City of Visalia Mayor. “Our hope is that the momentum of this program leads to long-term jobs and stable housing for those residing here in Visalia.”

The ECO Project is a coordinated effort of the City of Visalia, the Workforce Investment Board of Tulare County (WIB), ABLE Industries, and community agencies that provide services to the homeless. Individuals will be referred to the ECO Project by community agencies that are already providing services to them. Those referred to the Project need to either be homeless or have experienced homelessness within the past 12 months, be Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Adult Eligible, reside in Visalia and possess right-to-work documents.

“The ECO project is the next step in their path toward attaining employment and housing,” states Adam Peck, Executive Director, Workforce Investment Board of Tulare County. “Visalia has shown that we are a community that wants to provide opportunity, and together we’re providing an avenue for change for individuals who are experiencing homelessness.”

Individuals begin with pre-employment workshops with the Employment Connection and upon completion, meet with their new transitional job employer, ABLE Industries, to begin the ECO Project.

In Level I, participants work for 12 weeks, 20-hours per week, on City of Visalia cleanup projects. After the 12 weeks are completed, ECO crew members will begin an extensive job search for regular employment. In Level II, participants gain additional skills and increased responsibilities as they work full-time for six weeks. Upon successful completion of Level II, participants will be encouraged to apply for job openings in the public and private sector.  

“There are many individuals in our community who, for various reasons, find themselves experiencing homelessness,” shares Wende - Leigh Ayers, ABLE Industries Executive Director.  “Through the ECO Project, we can give them an opportunity to learn new skills, attain work and transition into a new chapter of life beyond homelessness.”

ABLE Industries Community Work Crew Supervisor Christy Preheim and Instructional Specialist Richard Hudgins who will be overseeing the project.
“We are excited and hopeful for positive outcomes that benefit both the participants and our city,” adds Preheim. “I think these participants will have a great experience in learning new job skills and gaining confidence in themselves to secure full-time employment.

A true community effort, organizations or citizens that are interested in being a part of the ECO Project are welcome. While ice water is provided daily, contributions of drinks, snacks or bag lunches can be made to show support for the crews.

Items accepted include:
- Refrigerated and non-refrigerated items
- Boxed juices, soda, sports drinks
- Cheese
- Nuts, pretzels, crackers, chips
- Cookies, granola bars
- Fresh fruit such as apples or oranges

For more information on how organizations, groups or individuals can help, contact Christy Preheim, ABLE Industries Community Work Crew Supervisor at (559) 651-8150 or
Entities interested in being a part of the ECO Project can contact Blanca Bonilla, WIB Workforce Analyst at (559) 713-5200 or

Businesses that are interested in hiring crew members can also contact Christy Preheim, ABLE Industries Community Work Crew Supervisor at (559) 651-8150 or

Follow developments in the ECO Project with #ECOProject

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