The mayor’s office announced a new initiative today that aims to put at least 1,000 San Franciscans back to work using federal stimulus funds.

The initiative, called JOBS NOW!, matches employers with unemployed city residents who meet certain qualifications, said Mayor Gavin Newsom, who dubbed it “the most significant jobs program ever in San Francisco.”

To qualify, candidates must live in San Francisco, have at least one child, and earn less than twice the federal poverty level, he said. Applicants will be screened and matched with potential employers for interviews.

The city will then use $25 million in federal stimulus funds to subsidize successful candidates’ salaries until September 2010, or whenever stimulus funds run out, Newsom said.

“It sounds almost too good to be true,” Newsom told dozens of reporters, city workers and job-seekers at the One Stop Employment Center on Mission Street, where several JOBS NOW! openings are posted on the wall. “But it does the one thing the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act should be doing, and that’s creating jobs.”

More than 200 formerly unemployed San Franciscans have already been matched with employers and are now working full-time through the initiative, Newsom said.

That includes Tracey Gutierres, a mother of four teenagers who was laid off from her retail job at Mervyn’s last year and is now working as a book-scanner for a non-profit company in the Presidio.

“The biggest difference – it’s taken off a lot of stress,” said Gutierres, who lives in San Francisco’s Excelsior neighborhood.

The ultimate goal is for employers to retain their new employees, even after stimulus funds run out, Newsom said. At the very least, participants will leave the work program with at least one year of stable employment history, he said.

Newsom urged city residents to call 311 for more information about the initiative.

Interested employers, who do not have to be based in San Francisco, should call 1-877-JOB1NOW.

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