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It is a fascinating time to be engaged in the work of reentry. For many years, Sponsors and our supporters have been advocating for system changes and watching as the state’s prison system continued to grow at the expense of important services like education. After years of growth, the pendulum has begun to swing. And Sponsors, widely regarded as a model program, has been at the heart of the conversation at both the state and national level.
Here in Oregon, House Bill 3194 created modest sentencing reductions and an early release program (Short Term Transitional Leave) that has the potential to flatline our prison growth over the coming decade. It also created a program that incentivizes recidivism reduction and encourages the use of programs to divert individuals from prison at the local level. As a result, we have seen a much greater focus on reentry services in an effort to reduce our recidivism rates.
We are currently involved in a number of exciting projects to enhance the services we provide while evaluating their effectiveness in ways we hope will contribute to the larger field of reentry. The Oaks at 14th, a unique project developed in partnership with the Housing And Community Services Agency of Lane County (HACSA), and Lane County Parole and Probation, is under construction and slated for completion in spring 2017 (right around the corner!).
When participants complete our transitional program, they are often at a loss to secure affordable housing in Eugene’s competitive rental market, especially with the permanent stamp of a criminal history. The Oaks, home to 54 one-bedroom apartments on in West Eugene, will provide permanent, affordable housing for veterans, seniors and people with disabilities – populations we know to experience significant barriers to securing housing following incarceration. We have raised more than $9 million dollars necessary for construction and will soon be launching a public campaign to raise the final dollars to complete the project. We hope you will join us to make The Oaks a home for its first residents.
As our agency continues to grow, I am very pleased with the caliber of candidates we attract for key positions. Most recently, we hired Joan Quaempts as our Women’s Program Director, replacing Laura Johnson, who is now Director of Program Development. Joan comes with a rich and diverse background in local government and nonprofit management. Joan has hit the ground running and is a welcome addition to our growing team.
I hope that you are enjoying this holiday season and spending quality time with family and friends. Now, more than any other time of year, we count on your support to ensure the continued stability of our programs. Your donations enable us to provide for the basic needs of the men, women and children who rely on our services each day. Every dollar you generously contribute enables us to provide transportation (bus passes), Oregon identification cards, and welcome baskets (bedding, hygienic supplies, towels, pillows, alarm clocks, and day planners) to individuals who would otherwise be homeless without our help.
Our programs would not exist without your continued support. Now, more than ever, we are counting on your generosity to continue our important work to serve Lane County residents returning home from prison. If you are not in a position to make a monetary donation, in-kind contributions of cold weather clothing and household goods are also deeply appreciated.
On behalf of our clients, board, and staff, thank you for all that you do and give. Best wishes for a festive holiday season and happy new year,