Andrew De La Torre got a second chance back in 2011
“Back then I was a delinquent. I was a hoodlum,” De La Torre said.
De La Torre was homeless for a while, after his parents lost their home to foreclosure. Then a friend referred the teenager to Job Corps in East San Jose, and his life changed.
“It wasn’t the building that got my life back, it was the people I met there, staff and students,” he said.
Job Corps is a nationwide, job training program for at-risk youth. It is run by the Department of Labor and has 125 campuses across the country.
On Tuesday, Congress will open a federal probe into the Job Corps budget after discovering it had a $100 million shortfall. So the agency will suspend most enrollments for the foreseeable future.
Sources tell NBC Bay Area 100 of the 153 staff at the San Jose campus have been told they might soon be out of a job.
In a statement to NBC Bay Area, the Department of Labor said, “The length of the enrollment suspension will be determined by the time it takes to achieve the necessary savings, but we do not expect it to last past June 30. Job Corps is conducting an exhaustive review of its current operating costs in order to make changes to ensure that program costs are sustainable in the future.”
The Department of Labor says it will continue to enroll, however, the most at-risk students -- those who are homeless or in foster care, or are runaways.
De La Torre says it upsets him that the program that got him out of trouble, is itself now in trouble.
“Well without Job Corps, I’d be out here again, working at a fast food joint,” he said. “Job Corps made it happen for me. I really appreciate everything they’ve done for me.”
De La Torre earned his G.E.D., and next month, he will trade in that document for a rifle. The former homeless teen enrolled in the U.S. Army, and is leaving for boot camp on April 15. He says Job Corps had everything to do with that accomplishment.