About Would Works
"I would work if I could."
Would Works provides a work opportunity for people who are homeless or living in poverty.
Started in Los Angeles in 2012, Would Works creates and sells wood products that are hand-crafted by individuals who have an immediate financial need and are working towards a goal.
Simple needs for complex lives
People living in poverty are often preoccupied with the task of fulfilling simple needs that many of us take for granted.
Their goal could be a new pair of eyeglasses or dentures, a bus ticket home or money toward a first month’s rent. We provide a way for these men and women to finance their goals while gaining work experience, learning concrete skills and receiving a recent job reference.
How it Works
- Is living in poverty or experiencing homelessness
- Has a financial need and wants to work in order to meet it
- Is referred to Would Works by an employment specialist or case worker at one of our partner organizations
- Helps the artisan set a goal and work to fund their financial need
- Hosts the workshops where they make hand-crafted wood products and gain woodworking skills
- Provides them with a job reference
How we started
Our story is one of listening to people in need and coming up with a way to help.
In 2009 Would Works founder Connor Johnson started working at a homeless shelter in the Skid Row area of downtown Los Angeles. He met hundreds of people who stayed in the area. He listened to their hopes and dreams and the obstacles they face every day. Time and again he would hear them say - I WOULD WORK... if I could.
He started Would Works and with the help of friends and family ran weekend workshops in church basements and housing site rec rooms throughout Skid Row.
In 2016 Would Works joined forces with Offerman Woodshop to scale up the program--together they raised funds to offer consistent weekly workshops and to expand the line of homewares. RH Lee, then the shop manager of Offerman Woodshop, took over as program director and enlisted Offerman woodworker Krys Shelley to lead the workshops.
With the support of the Los Angeles woodworking community and the amazing homeless services providers in Skid Row, Would Works has grown into a thriving social enterprise.
We employ over 50 individuals annually--providing over 2000 hours of paid employment, community engagement and woodworking training for people who are experiencing homelessness or extreme poverty in Los Angeles.