Jubilee Housing hosted a June community meeting for its Adams Morgan neighbors and elected representatives to share the organization’s vision for expanding justice housing in the neighborhood, including broadening Jubilee’s Reentry Housing Initiative.
Jim Knight, Jubilee Housing president and CEO, opened the meeting by highlighting the organization’s long history in Adams Morgan and its commitment to the well-being of every resident. Knight explained that in the face of D.C.’s unprecedented prosperity and gentrification, Jubilee’s work has shifted to focus on creating justice housing — deeply affordable homes, in resource-rich neighborhoods like Adams Morgan, with access to healthcare, employment, transportation, high quality schools, and supportive services.
Knight shared the organization’s vision for expanding justice housing by 30 percent over the next five years and explained that this vision includes everyone — families, children, individuals of all incomes, and those returning from incarceration. He also described the crisis our city faces regarding mass incarceration. Not only does the United States have the highest incarceration rate in the world, but also if D.C. was a state, it would have the highest incarceration rate per capita in the country.
Kevin Sharps, Jubilee’s vice president of Programs, spoke of how important it is for individuals coming home from incarceration to have the support they need to be successful. Without the proper supports, the chances of recidivism are much greater. Cherie Lindsay, director of Jubilee Housing’s Reentry Housing Initiative, reviewed how the reentry program has grown over the years. She also explained Jubilee’s new expanded programs.
The Reentry Housing Initiative, now in its seventh full year, serves up to 20 returning citizens at a time, with capacity to serve up to 45 people each year, and is divided between two properties – a men’s and women’s house. The program is designed to last up to one year and provides structure, support, and accountability for residents as they take the first steps toward rebuilding their lives.
Through this work, Jubilee has come to understand there are gaps in the system and in order to really be successful we need to meet individuals where they are. Jubilee’s expanded reentry initiative will provide a continuum of support for individuals as the return home from incarceration.
Two participants in the reentry program gave powerful testimonies about their experiences. One of the residents, spoke fondly about growing up in Adams Morgan, receiving two degrees from the University of the District of Columbia, and marrying her high school sweetheart. She also spoke about her past struggles with addiction and barriers to receiving proper treatment for her mental illness, which led her to make bad decisions that resulted in her incarceration. She has been living in Jubilee’s reentry house for close to a year and has been sober and in treatment for her mental illness the entire time. She is employed full time, has rebuilt relationships with her family and is stable, healthy, and productive.
After the presentation, Knight, Sharps, and Lindsay took questions and heard comments from neighbors. The outpouring of support from the community was powerful. While concerns were expressed, many residents were supportive of both justice housing and the reentry program.
Knight committed to keeping neighbors informed as Jubilee staff move forward with plans for expansion that helps to make Washington a city where all residents can thrive.