COTA offering overnight jobs to the homeless during upcoming F1 weekend


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Circuit of the Americas is partnering with two Austin-area homelessness support centers to offer jobs to the homeless for Formula 1 United States Grand Prix weekend.

COTA is offering $15 an hour to individuals who’ve been working with Mobile Loaves & Fishes and Caritas of Austin. They’ll do overnight janitorial work during the upcoming USGP race weekend (Nov. 1-3).

“Clearly there’s a need in our community to help wherever we can,” COTA Chairman Bobby Epstein told KXAN. “We have thousands of jobs we offer over Formula One weekend. Certainly we can carve out some for those who are in this situation.”

Alan Graham, CEO and Founder of the Mobile Loaves & Fishes, said this is the first time COTA has offered an opportunity like this.

“We don’t think of $15 as being a lot, but let me tell you, for our neighbors, it’s a big deal,” he said.

Mobile Loaves & Fishes operates a tiny home and RV community called Community First! Village. It’s for people who used to be chronically homeless.

Graham said most of their residents earn about $770 a month through Social Security or disability, so when they have an opportunity to work a few days at $15 an hour, “it’s a really big deal for us.”

At last check, Caritas of Austin said they were having a difficult time getting people to take the jobs because they rely on public transit to get around, and getting to COTA for an overnight shift using public transportation isn’t really possible.

COTA said it’s going to work with them on a solution.

Future opportunities to expand

COTA officials said people hired through Mobile Loaves & Fishes and Caritas of Austin will work overnight to pick up trash and get the venue ready for the next day. They will not have any interactions with customers.

And because they’re people who’ve already had relationships with the nonprofits, COTA said background checks will not be necessary.

Epstein said if the weekend goes well, he wants to expand the program to include other events hosted at COTA.

“I’d compare this to the program we did with Del Valle High School where we offered high school seniors a chance,” he explained. “We started that with a small pilot program. Now, we’re up to 100 seniors that work out at COTA for different events throughout the year, so I hope to see the same thing happen here.”

“When you look at the complexity of the issue of homelessness and the many facets of that prism, the economic well being of a human is one of those issues,” Graham said. “When you bring all of that in concert with things like what we’re doing out here in the village, like our micro homes, our dignified income, transportation, medical clinic, you have the confluence of all the things that can come together.”

Graham added, “We don’t have all of that yet, but this is one of those things, so more of this that happens for our neighbors and friends still on the streets, the better that’s going to be for our community.”

The eighth Formula 1 USGP weekend from COTA begins Friday and runs through Sunday. The United States Grand Prix takes place Sunday afternoon.

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