As part of a pilot program, the Edgecombe Residential Treatment Facility converted to a transitional housing program. The $2.5 million investment by New York State is aimed at reducing recidivism, assisting parolees re-entering the community, and diverting them away from the shelter system towards more stable housing.
Residents will be provided with stable housing through the program for up to 90 days as they work with staff on-site to obtain employment and permanent housing. Once an approved housing location has been secured, the proprietor of the household is eligible to receive a 12-week stipend to offset the cost of living.
“Supporting individuals as they successfully transition back into society is a core value of the work we do at the Edgecombe Residential Treatment Facility, where we have run parolee re-integration services since 2008,” said Dr. Peter Provet, Odyssey House President & CEO.
“Secure housing, support in finding a job, and developing strong community and family connections are proven successful measures for individuals leaving incarceration and treatment services. We’re proud to be a part of this new service to address homelessness and recidivism in New York City with our partners at the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision and New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports.”
A collaborative effort
The Edgecombe Residential Treatment Facility (RTF) is run by the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS), with Odyssey House providing ancillary services to support the parolees with their reintegration.
Edgecombe RTF has 70 beds, and DOCCS anticipates that it will be able to help the parolees find approvable housing in approximately 40 days, resulting in the ability to serve approximately 625 people a year. The facility will provide on-site meals, as well as a re-entry manager who will assist in facilitating employment, permanent housing placement in the community, and access to services.
Odyssey House staff assist parolees in finding vocational and educational training, resume writing and interview skills training, and assistance with obtaining entitlements, such as housing applications and filing for Medicaid.
“Odyssey House has always worked to address various social challenges in our community by providing comprehensive and holistic services to individuals struggling with substance use, mental health disorders, and lack of housing,” said Carlo Lespes, Odyssey House Edgecombe Program Director. “It is with great pride that through our partnership with DOCCS, we are able to continue this work by providing wrap-around services to individuals being released from State prison.”
Addressing the prison-to-shelter pipeline
According to DOCCS, two out of five people returning to New York City from prison last year were released to a shelter or another placement for homeless adults. The typical initial shelter stay for unhoused people under DOCCS supervision is 34 to 38 days, a difficult period intensified by the pressures of finding permanent housing and employment.
The lack of stable housing is one of many factors that lead to recidivism, especially for unhoused people who frequently come in contact with the police. Supportive housing with tailored-social services has been shown in some cases to reduce recidivism.
“The vast majority of incarcerated individuals in our facilities will be released back to the community, and thus it is imperative that we provide every opportunity that allows them to succeed,” said DOCCS Acting Commissioner Anthony J. Annucci. “This pilot program will produce tangible results that will benefit not only the individuals being released but their loved ones and communities as well.”