Transition program for ex-inmates seeks housing coordinator

A volunteer is needed for an agency that helps former inmates make their way on the outside.

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WALLA WALLA — STAR Project is looking for just the right person to coordinate between tenants and landlords.

The agency — Successful Transition and Recovery — serves clients who have been recently released from incarceration. Finding housing is one of the biggest tasks.

And hardest, noted Executive Director Glenna Awbrey.

The issue is two-fold, at least, she explained — most STAR clients are required by law to be in Walla Walla County after being released and while on probation.

But landlords, especially in an area of very low vacancy rates, are wary of renting to convicted felons.

Yet those newly on the other side of prison bars have to live somewhere, Awbrey said. “So for us to not have housing for them puts everyone at risk.”

It is her hope that a volunteer — the nonprofit organization’s funding can’t stretch to offer another paying position — can step forward to become a liaison between offenders and the county’s landlords.

Such a person will meet face-to-face with property owners and management companies to explain the process STAR uses to integrate ex-convicts, plus the incentives offered for being good tenants.

For some of the clients, having their own lease to understand and obey is a new experience, Awbrey said.

“It’s simple things, like knowing you didn’t have a huge party. But the person staying with you did, and it’s your responsibility to clean it up,” she explained. “They just don’t understand these things a lot of the time.”

A STAR Project housing coordinator will be the person to assure the landlord accountability is in place, along with repairs, cleaning power and rent money, should the landlord be left holding the bag, Awbrey said.

“An assurance they won’t be left high and dry.”

And if the planets align even more perfectly, there is potential that a housing coordinator can develop a program for classes on how to be a good tenant, the she added.

That would allow for standardizing the process of getting clients into housing and putting safeguards such as random drug testing in place to ensure compliance with housing and STAR rules.

For more information call Awbrey at 525-3612.

Comments

rddrgn1 1 year, 6 months ago

Now wouldn't it be nice if the old nursing home on Rose Street could be managed by ex-cons who are doing well, and use peer support to those just leaving prison to help them succeed outside of the bars ......... and maybe give a couple of mental health counselors, anger management counselors, and disabled or homeless vets a job and purpose in life to work with these ex cons ?????

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Daniel 1 year, 6 months ago

Great idea, and it's also available. Anyone have about $100,000 to buy it, and additional money to repair and manage it? This is a missed opportunity for our community.

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