Housing: Focus Apartments

For clients struggling to find adequate living arrangements, Safer Foundation's Housing Initiative provides assistance.

Safer Foundation’s Housing Initiative includes Focus Apartments, which provide adequate housing for certain clients.

A lack of adequate housing poses perhaps the most pressing challenge for many people with criminal records as they return to society. More than 10 percent of those coming in and out of prisons are homeless in the months before and after incarceration. Of this country’s homeless adults, 54 percent have experienced some form of incarceration‚ 49 percent of homeless adults have spent five or more days in a city or county jail at some point in their life, while 18 percent have faced incarceration in a state or federal prison. With between 2.3 and 3.5 million people experiencing homelessness nationwide, and over 166,000 homeless in the Chicago metropolitan area, Safer Foundation started a program in 2005 to help ease the burden for some of these adults in an attempt to reduce not just homelessness, but also the recidivism rate among returnees.

Many clients struggle to find housing upon release. These clients are eligible for the Focus Apartments.

Safer’s Housing Initiative utilizes funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide rental and utility assistance to recently released homeless individuals with criminal records, substance abuse issues, and/or chronic illness or other disabilities. The program operates under a permanent housing model, leasing one-bedroom apartments to clients.

Safer further developed the program in 2007 when we opened a new 10-unit building, “Focus Apartments”, in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood. Focus residents receive on- and off-site employment and drug-abuse assistance while they undergo credit repair, guidance for home ownership, and independent living counseling. Once Focus clients are able to achieve self-sustainability, they are released to live independently, freeing up apartment spaces for additional participants.

Home Sweet Home?

Finding adequate housing is especially difficult for those returning to society from prison. Safer’s Housing Initiative aims to help those who struggle to find shelter upon release. Between December 2004 and June 2007, Safer measured the following outcomes among the initial participants in its housing program:

Participants: 25

Job Starts: 23

Those achieving 30 days of employment: 18 (78 percent)

Average Wage: $8.46

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