In 2012, 562 men and 93 women were released into Vanderburgh County from the Department of Correction (DOC) with an estimated 30 individuals a month discharged into homelessness. The Discharge Coalition, a sub-committee of the Commission on Homelessness which is a joint city-county commission responsible for the implementation of Destination Home: A Ten Year Journey to End Homelessness in Vanderburgh County, was created to address and solve the problems of homelessness with regard to discharges from institutions.
Because the Discharge Coalition recognized the importance of successful transition of offenders into the community, the Welcome Home 82 Initiative was developed with a goal to address this issue by providing the necessary services and housing to prevent individuals at highest risk of homelessness from becoming homeless. Because Aurora is the fiscal agent of Destination: Home projects and its mission is to end homelessness, it was a natural addition to the array of programs and services already provided by the agency.
The Welcome Home 82 Initiative supports a holistic and systemic approach that seeks to reduce the likelihood of additional criminal behavior by taking a community approach to identifying and linking offenders with housing and services specific to their needs. This is accomplished by working collaboratively with service providers, community partners, families, justice professionals, and victims of crime. The program is designed to accomplish four goals:
- Decrease recidivism rates
- Increase public safety
- Increase family and community well-being
- Increase knowledge of successful re-entry programs
The program serves offenders re-entering society who are at-risk of or are homeless, and present with the greatest barriers to remaining stably housed, by providing intensive case management and housing vouchers.
This program utilizes the Bodega Model, an evidence-based, family support approach researched by the Bureau of Justice, Family Justice and American Probation and Parole. A five-step process is followed:
- Staff identify offenders who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless upon their release through referrals.
- Staff and client work together to identify barriers to successful transition such as mental/physical health, substance abuse, housing, employment, and education, as well identify network of supports, both natural and created.
- The client signs participant agreement and obtains housing through support of the case manager.
- The client and his or her support network participate in a re-entry plan meeting and set goals for his or her future.
- The client will participate in on-going case management.
Two staff members serve the Welcome Home 82 Initiative: a case manager and Coalition Coordinator—both housed at Aurora. The case manager assesses identified clients and assists accepted clients through the re-entry process. The Coalition Coordinator works to maintain and create community partners and to oversee the collaborative work on the re-entry program.
Although the case management and housing supports are reserved for identified partners, a community networking component of the project will be available to any offender returning to Vanderburgh County.
In 2015, we successfully reintegrated 66 out 69 clients back into society (96% as compared to the Indiana average of 62%). This impacted 35 adults and 34 children. As productive community members, our clients have become self-sufficient by attaining jobs, housing & are reconnecting with their families