Acres Homes construction program to address post-Harvey skilled worker shortage

Mayor Sylvester Turner was joined today by executives from HBI (Home Builders Institute) and Norbord to celebrate the start of the HBI Acres Homes Training Program. Upon completion of the free, 12-week course, 14 young men and women from Acres Homes will have the skills needed to obtain jobs in the construction industry.

The program is designed to address a critical worker shortage that is hampering rebuilding efforts post-Hurricane Harvey. It is also part of Mayor Turner’s “Complete Communities” initiative to upgrade infrastructure and spur economic development in five underserved neighborhoods across Houston.

“I am proud of the young men and women who are learning the carpentry trade and look forward to seeing similar programs implemented across this great city to train the workers that are rebuilding a better and stronger Houston,” Mayor Turner said. “I would like to thank Norbord for the generous donation to fund this program, and to HBI for working closely with my administration to make this day possible.

Mayor Turner was joined by Ross Commerford, Vice-President of North American Marketing and Product Management for Norbord, the maker of wood panels that are used in the construction trade across the world. After seeing the devastation wrought by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the company was compelled to act by donating $1 million to HBI to train individuals to help rebuild hard-hit communities.

“Building on the success of our Thank-a-Framer campaign, we wanted to put our words into action in the most impactful way we could. We can’t think of a better way to show our support to rebuild efforts in Texas and Florida than by continuing to support HBI’s training program for the building industry,” Commerford said.

The non-profit HBI operates construction training courses across the country, and was a natural partner to develop the program.

“HBI’s mission to build careers and change lives is directly aligned with Mayor Turner’s Complete Communities Initiative. We are pleased to partner with Norbord and the City of Houston to bring trades training to the Acres Homes community,” said HBI President and CEO John Courson.

HBI, GHBA (Greater Houston Builders Association) and the City of Houston Office of Business Opportunity, reached out to numerous community partners to build the curriculum, find a location and hire the staff to launch the HBI Acres Homes Training Program this summer.

“This program is a shining example of the power of a public/private partnership coming together to address a critical need in Houston,” said Director Carlecia Wright, of the Office of Business Opportunity. “And I invite other companies, non-profits and community leaders to join me and Director Tom McCasland of the Housing and Community Development Department as we implement Mayor Turner’s vision of bringing workforce development programs to Houston’s Complete Communities.”

Rapper Slim Thug produced a recruiting video for the program that received more than 100,000 views. As co-founder of Boss Life Construction, he supports the program’s goals of addressing the labor shortage in the construction industry and advancing economic opportunities for young men and women in Acres Homes and across Houston.

Launched in April 2017, the goal of the “Complete Communities” initiative is to ensure that neighborhoods across Houston have access to quality education, affordable housing, transportation options, green spaces, healthy food options, economic opportunity, and well-maintained infrastructure.