The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has announced the release of $7.5 million in additional National Emergency Grant 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.
U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez announced the funding on Wednesday, June 4, noting its importance in helping strengthen the workforce of Eastern Kentucky following a severe drop in coal mining. Since January 2012, layoffs have left more than 7,000 miners in the 23-county EKCEP service area out of work and in search of new employment.
“We first provided funds to help affected individuals in 2013, and the additional funds announced today will increase the availability of training and job search services in Kentucky,” said Secretary Perez. “These grants will grow the local economy, strengthen its workforce, and create opportunity for Kentuckians in the 21st century.”
The original NEG award for H.O.M.E. of up to $5.2 million—of which $3.7 million has been released—was approved on March 4, 2013. The new award brings the total funds awarded for the project to $11.3 million.
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 these additional funds will help ensure his agency’s continued support of laid-off miners and their families, including those who are already enrolled in the initiative and training for new careers.
“This new funding will allow us to continue to meet the workforce needs of our region’s unemployed miners in a time of unprecedented need,” Whitehead said. “We are very grateful for the support of Sec. Perez and the Department of Labor, and we once again applaud the department’s recognition of the plight of our coal miners and our efforts to serve them.”
Whitehead also thanked Sen. Mitch McConnell, Rep. Harold “Hal” Rogers, and Gov. Steve Beshear for their support of H.O.M.E. and choosing to again act to help EKCEP serve the region’s miners.
To date, nearly 2,000 people have enrolled for assistance through H.O.M.E. Nearly 900 people have gained new employment, and more than 600 are in job training.
For more information on how to enroll in H.O.M.E., visit www.homeeky.com or call, toll free, 1-855-HOME-690.