A New Start For Felons

From your place in the workforce to your place in a social circle, having a criminal background can hold you back in more ways than you might like to imagine. Reentering society after spending time in jail can prove very difficult as there are restrictions against former criminals in nearly every sphere of life. The Chicago Housing Authority is proposing a program that will allow people with a criminal history to live with their families in public housing, one step that may make that transition a little less harrowing.

In the initial phase of the program, 50 formerly incarcerated individuals would be permitted to move into CHA housing over the next three years. In many instances, individuals being released from prison find themselves back in neighborhoods with high crime and poverty. In fact, 2012 data from the Illinois Department of Corrections showed that a few Chicago zip codes see the return of thousands of inmates when they are released from prison; those same zip codes have some of the highest crime, poverty, and unemployment rates, making them hardly stable environments for rehabilitation. The CHA's proposed program could help people reintegrate into society with the support of their families and lower their chances of committing another crime.

The CHA will select the 50 pilot individuals based on recommendations from The Safer Foundation, Lutheran Family Services, and St. Leonard's House; those selected will need to have demonstrated that they are working towards becoming rehabilitated, self-sufficient citizens. It is still awaiting approval from the CHA board and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, but that approval could begin a hopeful recovery process for people making an honest effort to regain their families, their homes, and their lives.

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