Augustine Raegullin, a special services supervisor for Home Depot, talks to a job seeker during Congressman David Scott’s annual 13th Congressional District Jobs Fair Friday. Thousands of people showed up early for the event, where 4,449 jobs were expected to be available. (Staff Photo: Curt Yeomans)
COLLEGE PARK — Thousands of job seekers lined up at the Georgia International Convention Center Friday morning to be one of the first people in the door at Congressman David Scott’s annual 13th Congressional District Jobs Fair.
Before the doors opened on the fair, one ballroom at the convention center was packed from wall to wall with people waiting to get in. On the other side of the ballroom doors, nearly 100 employers were waiting for those potential employees to begin filing in. Foreclosure assistance was also available for residents struggling to pay their mortgages.
An hour later, the fair was packed with thousands of job seekers and thousands more residents — some from as far away as Athens — were still waiting to get in the door.
“These employers have said they have 4,449 available positions and that is wonderful,” said Scott. “We also have all of the major banks who are not only helping to get foreclosure money to help keep people in their homes, but are hiring as well. I think that is an excellent, excellent testimony and there is a positive feeling in here.”
As job seekers began filing into the fair, the lines quickly grew longer and longer at the booths for various employers. Within an hour, the wide aisles between rows of booths were clogged with people.
Lovejoy resident Tiffany Hines was one of the people waiting to get into the jobs fair. Hines wasn’t an unemployed resident seeking a new job. Instead, she was looking to make a career change from her current job in another state. She wanted to find a job as an accountant.
“I’m seeking a new position,” said Hines, who works for a home health agency. “I own a home here, but I took a job in Arlington, Va. However, I can’t seem to sell my home here, so I’m moving back here.”
Employers participating in the jobs fair included the Clayton County Board of Commissioners, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, MARTA, Grady Health System, Gwinnett County Police Department, Georgia Power, Georgia Southern University, the City of Atlanta, Atlanta Technical College, AT&T, Gainesville Police Department, U.S. Air Marshalls, the FBI, Home Depot, Gate Gourmet and UPS.
The congressman also worked with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs’ HomeSafe Georgia program to provide mortgage aid and foreclosure prevention resources to homeowners who need the assistance during the fair. The state administers federal resources designed to help homeowners through the program, said DCA Deputy Commissioner for Housing Carmen Chubb.
Chubb said the state has about $192 million left to help struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure. She said the program has already distributed $95 million in assistance to about 5,000 unemployed and underemployed residents. The program was expanded to include disabled residents earlier this year, she said.
“People still need assistance either because they recently lost their job or their salary was cut and we’re able to help address that need through this program,” said Chubb.
Several banks participated in this effort, including Bank of America, Wells Fargo, BB&T, Citi Mortgage, SunTrust, Regions Bank, U.S. Bank, HSBC, M&T Bank, Fannie Mae, State Home Mortgage and D&E Group.
Scott said he prayed the night before the jobs fair that $10 million in assistance would be distributed Friday. Chubb wasn’t sure how much money would end up being distributed, but with thousands of job seekers still waiting in line to get into the fair, she conceded anything was possible.
“We’d love to give away all $192 million today, but we haven’t set a specific goal,” she said.