Individuals exiting the criminal justice system with histories of homelessness or chronic health conditions are likely to either cycle back into the system, or end up homeless due to a lack of a comprehensive support system. CSH realized this unfortunate trend and set out to examine how supportive housing could address the issues these individuals faced. We quickly realized that several systems would need to be engaged to address the underlying housing and service needs of people who cycle through homelessness and incarceration. One element of our multi-pronged effort to bridge diverse systems was to create and convene a National Reentry Advisory Board.
Under the leadership of Martin F. Horn, former Commissioner of New York City’s Department of Correction and Probation and The Honorable Evelyn Lundberg Stratton, Ohio State Supreme Court Justice, the board has helped guide CSH’s reentry supportive housing work and cultivate national partnerships with key stakeholders like the Council of State Governments and educated federal policy makers, including visits to Washington, D.C. with senior-level government staff.
CSH and the Advisory Board brought together a larger audience of national and local leaders, in a national forum on reentry housing in November 2009. The event highlighted the experiences that we have had after several years of developing and refining a reentry model through the Returning Home Initiative in cities such as Los Angeles, Chicago and New York, and enabled over 100 leaders from cities, counties and states across the country, to benefit from our findings and the knowledge of their counterparts in other systems. For us, the highlight of the forum was our keynote speaker, David Rosa.
David was born and raised in Chicago, IL. After serving close to 25 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections, he had nowhere to go upon completing his sentence. Thanks to a dedicated caseworker, he was connected with St. Leonard’s Ministries, where comprehensive residential, case management, and employment services are available to help people rebuild their lives. At St. Leonard’s David thrive. Today, he is the Administrator for St. Andrew’s Court, a position he has held since 2002. We look forward to expanding our reentry efforts thanks to continuing support from funders like the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, so that more individuals like David can leave incarceration and thrive in the community.