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Homecoming Project: Airbnb for those returning from prison

(NewsNation) — For America’s prisoners, life behind bars typically serves as poor preparation for his or her lives after being launched from incarceration. Reentering society will be troublesome, as ex-prisoners are sometimes on their very own relating to securing housing, employment and different requirements.

In jail, “Mainly, all you’ve gotta do is keep alive, you recognize what I imply? And survive all of the insanity that goes on in there,” mentioned a former prisoner named Marcus Nunn in a latest documentary. “You don’t need to pay payments. You don’t have to purchase meals. They feed you 3 times a day, though the meals is crap. However if you come again into society, that is the true world. All these issues that you just didn’t need to do for many years, now it’s a must to do.”

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However Nunn had assist together with his reentry from an Oakland-based nonprofit referred to as Affect Justice. For the previous 4 years, Affect Justice has been operating the Homecoming Undertaking, which goals to assist ex-prisoners ease again into society.

“When individuals depart jail, they’ve only a few choices by way of housing. Sometimes, housing is transitional housing or congregate care housing which might typically really feel like one other extension of a carceral system the place they’ve only a few choices and really freedoms, too, as they arrive again into the group,” mentioned Aishatu Yusuf, who serves because the vice chairman of innovation applications at Affect Justice.

That’s the place the Homecoming Undertaking provides an alternate, paying householders to usher in somebody newly launched from jail or jail, much like how visitors pay to guide a room in somebody’s dwelling via web sites similar to Airbnb.

“What we do is we take group properties — so in case you have a room inside your own home that you may be keen to allow us to use, we pay you roughly $40 a day for as much as six months to accommodate an individual leaving jail,” Yusuf mentioned.

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The subsidy, supplied by this system, covers hire and utilities; it’s as much as the participant and host to debate how groceries and meals purchases might be obtained.

This system permits individuals to get entry to secure and inexpensive housing in a pricy space the place some housing advocates estimate {that a} renter would wish an hourly earnings of $43.73 to afford a two-bedroom house.

The group makes positive to display properties earlier than making placements. The screening course of consists of matching periods the place each hosts and potential visitors get to know one another earlier than housing preparations are finalized. As soon as they reside in a house, individuals are anticipated to look for employment and/or training.

After a resident is positioned in a house, the Homecoming Undertaking pairs them with a group navigator whose job it’s to work with them in figuring out any assets they should clean their re-entry into society. The group navigator will work to pair residents with, for instance, employment or authorized companies.

Many conventional midway properties are seen as an extension of the legal justice system, the place residents are sometimes beneath strict surveillance and/or curfews. For Nunn, whose journey was documented by the German documentary tv program Galileo, the expertise in a Homecoming Undertaking dwelling was liberating.

Within the documentary, he pointed to his pantry, microwave and range.

“After consuming jail meals for 31 years, now to have the ability to put together my very own meals, you recognize, it’s really a blessing,” he mentioned.

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Since its inception, the Homecoming Undertaking has positioned round 85 individuals in properties in Alameda and Contra Costa counties in California.

For Yusuf, one of many program’s brightest spots has been how profitable it has been in stopping reoffending by ex-prisoners.

“Our program has a zero % recidivism price,” she mentioned, with the caveat that they haven’t but tracked outcomes for residents two or three years after they’ve left this system.

Nonetheless, she famous that getting hosts to take part in this system is usually a problem.

“It’s a scary ask for letting somebody into your private house but in addition any individual who has a stigma for who they’re,” she mentioned.

To assist recruitment efforts, the group has not too long ago introduced on an area advertising and marketing agency.

Like many nonprofit applications, the Homecoming Undertaking can also be constrained by the monetary assets which are obtainable to it. However the California legislature not too long ago gave Affect Justice funding they hope will assist broaden the Homecoming Undertaking to Los Angeles.

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