CHA receives $100,000 grant to assist youth as part of National Reentry Week
Will lessen long-term consequences of legal trouble for youth
Edited by Kai EL’ Zabar
Chicago Housing Authority CEO Eugene Jones, Jr. and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Midwest Regional Administrator Antonio R. Riley announced Monday that CHA has won a $100,000 Chicago Juvenile Reentry Assistance Program grant from HUD and the Department of Justice
CHA will partner with the Children and Family Justice Center, Bluhm Legal Clinic at Northwestern University School of Law.to eliminate barriers to education, employment and housing for public housing residents up to 24 years old who have a criminal record. The goals include expungement, sealed records and legal representation that would lessen the long-term consequences of legal trouble.
“The CHA has always been a champion for our communities and this grant ensures that a young person’s past will not define their future,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “Young residents impacted by harsh sentencing for non-violent low-level drug offenses often face life barriers and preventable. So this is an important step in restoring hope, opportunity, and second chances because the future of Chicago rests on the future of every Chicagoan.”
Jones Jr. said the reality is that young people make mistakes.
“It is important that we are helping them move forward with assistance so that they are able to move past their mistakes and back into society,” he said. “We are looking forward to this collaboration with the Children and Family Justice Center.”
Riley said: “While we have made progress, our work is not done. Helping juveniles be gainfully employed upon reentry costs a fraction of the cost if we do not reduce recidivism. This is a cost-effective investment to help lift those impacted out of hopelessness and get them back on the right path.”
The Obama Administration has taken major steps to make our criminal justice system fairer, more efficient, and more effective at reducing recidivism and helping formerly incarcerated individuals contribute to their communities. An important part of that commitment is preparing those who have paid their debt to society for substantive opportunities beyond the prison gates, and addressing obstacles to successful reentry that too many returning citizens encounter.
As part of this effort, the Department of Justice designated the week of April 24-30, 2016, as National Reentry Week. Leadership from across the Administration are traveling during National Reentry Week in support of these many events and are encouraging federal partners and grantees to work closely with stakeholders like federal defenders, legal aid providers, and other partners across the country to increase the impact of this effort.
Julie Biehl, the Director of the Children and Family Justice Center at Bluhm Legal Clinic, said: “CFJC is excited to be participating in this project and welcomes the opportunity to provide free legal assistance to young people – CHA residents or family members of residents – to address the multitude of collateral consequences arising out of their involvement in the juvenile or criminal justice system and thus reduce the barriers to reentry for them.”
Christopher Huff, who serves on the Youth Advisory Board of Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission, the Student Executive Board for University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics and is Vice-Chairman of the Board for nonprofit organization Chicago Votes, also spoke.
He said affordable housing was an essential component to his reentry into the community.
“It helped provide me a sense of stability and focus more on my cognitive and emotional development,” he said. “It also helped me have a place we’re my family could come together and reconnect after years of being disconnected from one another.”
HUD also awarded $100,000 to the Housing Authority of Cook County and City of East Chicago Housing Authority.