The 21st Show

Re-Entry Housing For Formerly Incarcerated People


State Rep. Carol Ammons (D-Champaign) and Housing Authority of Champaign County Executive Director David Northern at a ribbon cutting event on Feb. 6, 2020 for the First Steps Community House in Champaign. The transitional residence is for people recently released from prison and is a joint project between HACC and the Champaign group First Followers. Lee Gaines/Illinois Public Media

Illinois releases roughly 28,000 people from prison each year.

A recent report by the Illinois Justice Project and Metropolitan Planning Council found that many people lack the housing and support they need to successfully reintegrate into society.

The Housing Authority of Champaign County is supporting a new home that will provide housing and support services for four formerly incarcerated men. The home is operated by a group called First Followers.

The group offers help finding jobs and healthcare for the formerly incarcerated.

“To think that people are going to walk out of prison gates and be able to (find jobs and housing) immediately when they haven’t been able to increase their education or gain job skills, or even necessarily build a resume,” said Jennifer Vollen-Katz, executive director of the John Howard Association, an Illinois prison watchdog organization. 

First Followers has raised enough money to keep the house in operation for at least a year as they try out this new project.

Guests: Jennifer Vollen-Katz, Executive Director of John Howard Assocaition. Marlon Mitchell, Co-Founder of First Followers. Tamika Davis, comminuty outreach specialist and peer mentor with First Followers.

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