Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Place to Call Home

A person rebuilding a life after an addiction, homelessness, or prison has the double needs of employment and housing. These both have to be in place in order to increase the odds of successful outcomes. It goes without saying that housing without a job or a job without housing are not scenarios that are destined for success.

Over the years, Belay’s various faith venture businesses have partnered with transitional housing organizations such as Providence Network in order to serve the housing needs of our program participants. One of the benefits of such a partnership is that individuals receive 24 hours of services during a very difficult time of transition. Then, a natural step down from services occurs as people remain in our program and graduate from the transitional housing program into their own apartment. Individuals do not lose all of their program support at once as this slow progression allows them to return to full self-sufficiency in a more natural progression.

We have recently run into a new roadblock to finding housing situations for individuals coming out of prison. Because of some legislation implemented a few years back because of a violent crime Denver’s Capital Hill neighborhood, it is illegal for individuals with certain felony offenses to live in neighborhood halfway home facilities. Capital Hill is the area where many high quality transitional programs exist so this legislation takes away the best options from the individuals who need them the most.

I think the rules are also shortsighted. The aim may be to reduce the potential for future violent crimes in the Capital Hill neighborhood by keeping such individuals out. But the reality is that these individuals end up living on their own in a Capital Hill apartment forgoing the program services that lead to a decrease in future criminal activity. I believe that the Denver ordinance leads to potential unintended consequences from unsupported offenders now being forced to live by themselves in the community rather than in the proactive safety of a community transitional-housing program.

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