Camden, New Jersey is pushing through its first full day without hundreds of city workers – including firefighters, and nearly half the police force.
The police and fire layoffs have dominated the headlines, but the public safety workers are not the only people who lost their jobs in the massive layoffs.
Karl Walko is President of Camden County Council #10, which represents more than 100 laid-off non-uniformed workers.
“More homes are going to go unboarded, more properties are going to go uncleaned, more streets are going to have potholes and aren’t repaired, the cemeteries aren’t going to get cut, services are going to have a big impact in the neighborhoods,” said Walko. “In redevelopment, the employees there work on bringing new revenues in, working with builders, contractors, developers, and businesses and all that will suffer.”
One of the hundreds of Camden city workers who was laid off Tuesday, is starting a support group to help colleagues now out of work.
Keanna Ralph worked as a grant manager in the department of public works. Ralph said the new group, called “Hope 2 Thrive,” will help ease some of the pain associated with being laid-off.
“To offer that emotional support because it does get very trying,” said Ralph. “I hear that some people even contemplate suicide, unfortunately, but that’s just the reality. Some people see it as if their livelihood is really being affected. It begins to cause others to go into depression. It gets tough and if a person is alone, it can get even tougher.”
Ralph said the group will also share information about job fairs and employment opportunities.
Unemployed workers looking to join can reach Ralph at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Camden Mayor Dana Redd says the significant layoffs were not easy, but she had to make difficult decisions given the city’s $26.5 million budget gap.