Service-rich Housing Can Help Returning Citizens Thrive in DC

Rebekah TaftBlog

Re “It does not have to be this way’: Report slams services for former inmates returning to D.C.” published in the Washington Post

The Council for Court Excellence is right that there are major hurdles for returning citizens in Washington, D.C. Its report “Beyond Second Chances” makes the case that the District lacks affordable housing and supportive services necessary to help returning citizens thrive after return from prison. It’s a gap that Jubilee Housing helps fill through its Reentry Housing Initiative (RHI).

“Many of the recommendations outlined in the report could certainly make transitioning to stable housing easier if they were adopted by the city and housing providers. Reliable links to housing and employment are particularly crucial, as unless a person has both, it is nearly impossible to thrive,” said Sylvia Stokes, Vice President of Programs at Jubilee Housing.

Serving up to 20 returning men and women at a time in two properties, RHI 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. In a city where returning citizens face barriers to housing, employment, education, and health, RHI program participants can expect to gain safe and affordable permanent housing, enjoy self-sufficiency, engage in pro-social behavior, gain and retain employment, increase income, and reduce overall risk of recidivating.

“Not one of these key outcomes are easy to accomplish on the part of staff or on part of returning citizens. It takes time, money, resources, and commitment to make these life changes. But we’ve found that the alignment of housing and supports really maximizes the potential for returning citizens to thrive in the District and promotes justice within our entire community. We need to work together with the city to expand these kinds of opportunities so that everyone gets a second chance to lead a stable, self- sufficient life in the District,” said Stokes.