Dean’s Journey to Overcome Housing Discrimination

Dean, a veteran in his early 70’s who experiences disabilities, is no stranger to Sponsors. He jokingly refers to himself as one of Sponsors’ first clients. Back in 1975 when Dean released from prison, Sponsors looked quite different. The organization was made up of a small and dedicated group of community volunteers led by Sponsors’ founder, Sister Janice Jackson. Together, they would “sponsor” individuals like Dean, helping them to find work, pay for moving costs, and donated clothing and household items.

Dean appreciated the support and encouragement, and stayed connected to the organization, hoping he could help others like him by volunteering his time. When Sponsors launched its first transitional housing location, Dean was there to hang the sign at the grand opening. He witnessed firsthand the surprise gifting of the property to Sister Jackson, a touching moment that he recalls fondly.

Unfortunately, Dean’s reentry journey does not end there. Decades later, Dean would find himself on the brink of homelessness.

It might be hard to imagine how Dean could achieve success and stability, and then come so close to homelessness years after his release. Dean explains that he had always been honest with employers and landlords about his conviction history. When the apartment building Dean lived in was sold to a new owner, he was required to go through the rental application process again. The new company evicted Dean immediately after discovering he had been to prison. He would have to leave his home of 8+ years.

Dean began searching for a new place to live. He became discouraged and worried about his future. Every rental application he submitted was denied because of his past. Finally, his parole officer suggested he reach back out to Sponsors. Though many years had passed since Dean had been an active program participant, he hoped that Sponsors might be able to help him find a place to live.

Dean had worked hard to overcome many obstacles and was successfully rebuilding his life. Despite all his progress, he was being denied the most basic of needs: a home. Fortunately, Dean was able to move into one of Sponsors’ Permanent Supportive Housing apartments.

Individuals with conviction histories often experience a lifetime of housing and employment discrimination, making the journey to stability incredibly challenging.

Thankfully, with the generous and kind support of our community, Sponsors has been able to continue growing since its humble beginnings, to better meet the needs of individuals like Dean.