MILWAUKEE – In an effort to help young people in Milwaukee involved in the justice system find jobs and housing, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced $100,000 for the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee and Legal Action of Wisconsin to address the challenges justice-involved individuals face when trying to find work and a place to call home.
Under the Juvenile Reentry Assistance Program (JRAP), funded through DOJ’s Second Chance Act funds, HUD and DOJ are teaming up to help young Americans who’ve paid their debt to society rehabilitate and reintegrate back into their communities. JRAP funding was awarded to Public Housing Agencies who have a partnership with a nonprofit legal service organization with experience providing legal services to juveniles.
“Reconnecting young people who’ve paid their debt to society to decent jobs and housing allows them to turn the page and become active, productive members of their communities,” said HUD Secretary Julián Castro. “These grants offer a helping hand to those who deserve a second chance so they have a real opportunity to reach their full potential.”
“The future of our nation depends upon the future of our young people – including young people who have become involved with our justice system,” said U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch. “By helping justice-involved youth find decent jobs and stable housing after they return home, these critical grants provide a foundation for a fresh start and offer a path towards productivity and purpose. In the months ahead, the Department of Justice will continue helping justice-involved youth enrich their lives and improve our country.”
“While we have made progress, our work is not done. Helping juveniles be gainfully employed upon reentry costs a fraction of the cost if we do not reduce recidivism,” said HUD Midwest Regional Administrator, Antonio R. Riley. “This is a cost-effective investment to help lift those impacted out of hopelessness and get them back on the right path.”
“Milwaukee’s future depends on our ability to help young adults become productive, responsible citizens,” said Mayor Tom Barrett. “This investment will give young residents who have paid their debt for non-violent low-level offenses the opportunity to avoid spiraling into a cycle of violence, poverty and incarceration. It gives hope for second chances that can save lives and build a stronger community.”
“In this life’s play, the one in which young people make amends to society, it is incumbent for all of those involved that their next chapter stands to be different than the prior one,” said HACM’s Tony Pérez. “Thus, access to housing, education, training and ultimately employment demands from them and us a fair chance for them. These funds will assist in a strategy that supports a credible path forward.”
David Pifer, Executive Director of Legal Action of Wisconsin, said: “Legal Action welcomes the opportunity to work with HACM to provide free legal assistance to young people – HACM residents or family members of residents – to reduce legal and other barriers that may complicate their reentry and produce unfair lingering effects of their time in the justice system.”
Having a juvenile or a criminal record can severely limit a person’s ability to seek higher education, find good employment or secure affordable housing. Today, there are nearly 55,000 individuals under age 21 in juvenile justice facilities, and approximately 185,000 young adults aged 18 to 24 in state and federal prisons. These collateral consequences create unnecessary barriers to economic opportunity and productivity. President Obama and members of his Cabinet, via the Federal Interagency Reentry Council, continue to take impactful steps to ensure those exiting the justice system become productive, law-abiding citizens. Today’s announcement is consistent with HUD’s recently released guidance on the application of Fair Housing Act standards to the use of criminal records by providers of housing and real estate-related transactions, and the recent guidance for public housing authorities and owners of federally assisted housing on excluding the use of arrest records in housing decisions.
To help alleviate collateral consequences associated with a juvenile or criminal record, JRAP assists young people up to age 24 residing in public housing, or who would be residing in public housing but for their record, by:
- Expunging, sealing, and/or correcting juvenile or adult records; as permitted by state law;
- Assisting targeted youth in mitigating/preventing collateral consequences such as reinstating revoked or suspended drivers’ licenses;
- Counseling regarding legal rights and obligations in searching for employment;
- Providing guidance for readmission to school; and
- Creating or modifying child support orders and other family law services, and more.