Saturday, September 18, 2010

Sources of Help for Ex-Cons

We’ve debunked the myth of the free Social Security money right out of prison for ex-offenders.
So what is out there for them? We keep hearing about all this aid, so where is that going? For one thing, it's going to state and local government agencies, and local not-for-profit groups that single out ex-offenders as clients that they serve (NOT individuals). What form the aid is taking is anybody's guess. It depends on what agency gets the money, and what they do with it.
Federal resources for ex-convicts can involve help in getting a job (including bonding, tax breaks for employers, the same student aid available to everybody, and counseling at career one-stop job places.).

How do you find this help? For ex-offenders, it means identifying agencies in their area that have received grant money from the government.

You need to contact those agencies to put you in touch with resources. Often, they are the same resources that are available to other people hurting in today’s economy. Sometimes, they may have some funds for use by ex-offenders only, but it will often come as a service rather than direct dollars. This is a website by the federal government that identifies state and local agencies involved in helping ex-offenders. It lists state and local groups and a listing of what they provide. Sometimes it simply lists the top agency (for instance, the state Department of Correction), and not the office below it that really provides the service (for instance, in Ohio, that would be the Reentry Office) . You may have to contact an agency to see what type of assistance is available. Do NOT assume it is a cash grant—it PROBABLY ISN’T.

For ex-offenders in Ohio, try this website. It's the state office that helps ex-offenders. There is also a listing of help county-by-country, and includes great, detailed information on expungment and sealing of records for Ohio. The link is for filing in Hamilton County, but the state information on what can and can't be expunged or sealed is excellent.

***More goodness****From the Sentencing Project, a state-by-state overview of rights after a felony conviction, expungement and sealing, and non-discrimination against ex offenders.
More state and local resources for ex-offenders through the National Reentry Resource Center.

29 comments:

Quentin L. Smith said...

I've recently been released from prison. I'm trying to get on my feet, I'm currently living with my aunt in Atlanta its awkward cause her home is facing foreclosure, i haven't found a stable job to help therefore im not bringing in money. I need to get help in every aspect. Money for rent, a vehicle, ECT.

Linda Koss said...

Mr. Smith--You have an increasingly common situation, and you need to contact people in the Atlanta area that are most familiar with ex-offender and foreclosure issues. First, your aunt should contact a HUD-approved counselor in town AS SOON AS POSSIBLE to see if they can stop her foreclosure. Here's a website with a list:
http://www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/sfh/hcc/fc/index.cfm?webListAction=search&searchstate=GA&filterSvc=dfc

Also, there's a foreclosure program in Georgia. You might want to see if your aunt qualifies:
https://www.homesafegeorgia.com/

Nobody can honestly guarantee to save her home, but these are honest, FREE sources of help.

Re: there are some resources for ex-offenders in Atlanta. Here's a list from the 211 database in Atlanta:

Healing Hearts of Families USA Ministries, Inc
Confidential Address
Atlanta, GA 30311
(404) 289-5277 Main Client Number
http://www.healingheartsusa.org
Fulton County

Re-Entry Connection, Inc.
Confidential Address
Atlanta, GA 30310
(678) 471-9625 Main Client Number
(404) 981-1240 Additional Number
http://www.thereentryconnectioninc.vpweb.com
Fulton County

Reentry Project, Inc.
P.O. Box 52
Austell, GA 30168
(888) 973-3687 Main Client Number
(678) 805-4744 Fax
http://www.reentryproject.org
Cobb County

Place of Joy Ministries, Inc.
5330 Old National Hwy.
College Park, GA 30349
(678) 508-6724 Main Client Number
(404) 763-7120 Fax
http://www.placeofjoyministries.org
Fulton County

Will of the Father Ministries, Inc.
2962 Ember Dr. Ste. 103
Decatur, GA 30034
(404) 381-6110 Main Client Number
(404) 328-1006 Fax
Dekalb County

I could not find a car program, but try one of the agencies above.

Also, there's someone at the Atlanta Workforce Development Agency who deals specifically with ex-offenders in their job search. He would be Blanchard Cooke at 404-546-3021


Anonymous said...

I have a felony drug conviction in NJ dating back to Sept. 1998. I recently moved to NC and applied for public assistance because I was having trouble finding employment due to said charge. What struck me as odd is that under NC assistance program if you have a drug conviction out of state you no longer qualify for ANY help. Nothing, not one dime, not housing nor food or clothing.
Rather than rant I'm asking for your help as some alternative to combat this communist behavior they call law.

Linda Koss said...

I'll let you know if/when I find something.

Linda Koss said...

Don't know what part of the state you are in, but click this link for a list of ex-offender agencies in North Carolina. They are bound to have dealt with this situation before:

http://nc211.bowmansystems.com/index.php/component/cpx/index.php?option=com_cpx&task=search.query&advanced=true&search_history_id=-1&all=ex+offenders&county=&geo_county=&volunteer_query=&wishlist_query=&code=&submit=Search

Linda Koss said...

Copy and paste that link into the URL box at the top of the page.

Timojene Watson said...

I just got out of prison in September 2011 for possession for sales have been down for 6 years I have been through school for alcohol and drug counseling yet cannot find a stable job as an ex felon can someone tell me where can I go to get help with paying the bills

Linda Koss said...

Ms. Watson, I don't know where you live, so that would influence where you could get help. Most help comes on the LOCAL level, not from the federal level. If you have debts that you have incurred, you need to see a legitimate debt counselor to deal with your creditors. There is no place I know of that gives money to pay past debts. You can find one for your locality by calling 1-800-388-2227. If you need help with food, clothing, basic expenses, try 211 where you live, and see if you have a 211 agency that will put you in touch with agencies that can help you.

Have you been in touch with a reentry organization in your area? Here is a website of HIRE Network organizations that help with work issues: http://hirenetwork.org/clearinghouse. Here's also a nationwide list of reentry organizations: http://www.nationalreentryresourcecenter.org/audiences/incarcerated-individuals

Linda Koss said...

With a more definitive location, I could give more info.

Anonymous said...

Looking for help for an individual in Charlotte, NC. Has a record for armed robbery dating back to the mid 1980's. Looking for employment resources.

Linda Koss said...

A place you might want to look is Center for Community Transitions:

http://www.centerforcommunitytransitions.org/lifeworks.html


They work with ex-offenders, and their number is (704) 374-0762. Lifeworks is a program they have for ex-offenders, and they may/probably know felon-friendly employers. Good luck to you.

Naomi said...

My husband and I are trying to find a house to rent in Phoenix, AZ. Unfortunately, he is an ex-con which is hampering our search. We have heard there are resources for this, and other, situations but don't know where to go. Please, if you have any information that could help us it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Linda Koss said...

Here's a couple of ideas. There's a place called 2nd Chance Rentals in Phoenix. (602-761-480) or apply at: https://www.my2ndchancerental.com/ApplyNow

They will take ex offenders, but not violent, sex offenders or arsonists.

You might also talk to Derek at the Family Service Agency at 602 264 9891. Good luck.

Naomi said...

Thank you for your help. :)

rex asbury said...

my nephew just got released from prison and he will be trying to find a job could you tell me some places he can look we live in sheperdsville,ky he will be living with his mom and dad and is there any where he can get assisantce with food and clothing. my sister and brotherlaw are struggling now they are raising my other nephew son. thank you very much. here is my email. b.mccormick1@yahoo.com

Linda Koss said...

Will get some info in a couple of days.

Linda Koss said...

For security reasons (my IT guy would kill me) I don't reply by personal email, but I have identified some places that could help your nephew:

KentuckianaWorks Reentry By Design
In an effort to help ex-offenders on parole find jobs, KentuckianaWorks began Reentry By Design in 2010. This program offers free job-search assistance to ex-offenders on parole who are 19 years of age or older, who have a referral from their parole officer and who are having difficulty finding a job.
Last year (7/1/11-6/30/12, 65 ex-offenders with moderate to high risk for recidivism have been placed in jobs through KentuckianaWorks Reentry By Design. Thirty-one employers hired at least one ex-offender, some have more than one ex-offender working for them. Here's the link to more information about them:

http://www.kentuckianaworks.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=vheL9JF2ilQ%3d&tabid=142

The program is operated by Goodwill Industries of Kentucky and serves ex-offenders in Jefferson County. For more information, ex-offenders should contact their parole officer or KentuckianaWorks Reentry By Design staff at 909 E. Broadway, Louisville, or call (502) 585-5221. The office is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

For other help with basic needs, he should contact:
Bullitt County Multi-Purpose CAA:

http://www.communityactionky.org/Agencies/AgencyList/MultiPurposeCAA.aspx

Call: 502-543-4077

Good luck to you and your nephew.

Anonymous said...

Hello, My husband will be released in the beginning of 2015. I would like to know if there is any information about small business grants and loans for ex-offenders with felonies. He is a black male in the state of Florida. Is there any specific information on how to obtain such resources?

Linda Koss said...

Hello. I'm sorry, but I didn't find any grants or loans in your state for ex-offenders. There was a program once--a couple of years ago--that was a "entrepreneurial boot camp" for ex-offenders, but it hasn't been going on in awhile.

Any small business loans would be given on the same basis as anybody else, and that means having a good business plan and a good credit record. While the state may get involved in guaranteeing loans, banks still would be the place giving them, and they need some firm belief that the business will get off the ground. When your husband gets out, he should see a SCORE counselor. These retired business people will give counseling for free on how to start up a business--and that will include working on creating a good credit history for some time out in the future, and a business plan that is sound and logical. Then he can think about getting loans. Call 1-800- 634 0245 to find a SCORE chapter near you.

Accion does micro-loans in your state, and that might be a good place to start: http://www.accionusa.org/home/small-business-loans/about-us/where-we-lend/florida.aspx

For more general resources for ex-offenders, try these sites:

Re-entry resources:
http://www.dc.state.fl.us/resourceDirectory/Search.aspx

Job seeker ex-offender resources:
http://www.workforcecentralflorida.com/job-seeker/job-seeker-services/ex-offender-resources.stml

Good luck to you both.

Good luck to you both.

Anonymous said...

Ms.Koss, I've read all of your comments and they were all very helpful. I just moved from Chicago to Huntsville, Alabama and its been very tough for me to find work. Due to my background, I don't get the jobs. My long term goal is to open my own business, but for now I just need to work. My preferred field is in customer service/ Debt collections. Do you have any advice for me? By the way, most companies ask if you've been convicted of a felony within the last 7 years, but when they do the background check, they see everything. I think thats unfair.

Linda Koss said...

If you were a nonviolent offender, there's an organization that can help you:
ALABAMA NON VIOLENT OFFENDERS ORGANIZATION
PO Box 17199
Huntsville, AL 35810
(256) 489-9775 Administrative
view map
Madison County
ADVOCACY SERVICES
Click Here for Details
Description:Helps close the past life to create a brighter future by assisting non-violent offenders that are in good standing in community in the city of Huntsville, AL, the state of Alabama and surrounding counties. Assists them with getting their voting rights reinstated and their records pardoned or expunged and we also help with housing, education and employment.
Contact person:Male callers contact Adrien Mueller
Female callers contact Travis Mueller
Eligibility:Anyone with a non-violent criminal background.
(from Alabama 211 website)

You might try the Huntsville Career Center also. It's the one-stop shop for employment. It's at 2535 Sparkman Drive , and the phone number is 256-851-0537. The one in Toledo keeps a list of felon-friendly employers, and the one in Huntsville probably does, too.

In www.Jobs2Careers.com, you can search by city and the word "hires felons" to find employers that hire felons, in and near cities. The link for that is:

http://www.jobs2careers.com/Jobs/q-Hires-Felons-l-Huntsville-AL/

Copy and paste this into a browser address box and search. Take care and good luck.






Amber Stallings said...

My name is Amber. I have been out of prison for 3 weeks. I am in Utah and I am basically homeless. Are there any resources that help fund housing for single women with no children and seeking employment?

Linda Koss said...

It sounds like you are in need of immediate temporary assistance. At the Department of Workforce Services site for Utah, there is a site to check out your eligibility for temporary aid, like cash and food stamps: http://jobs.utah.gov/assistance/index.html or call 1-866-435-7414 toll-free. For a full list of their services for ex offenders, check out the jobs website at: http://www.hirenetwork.org/content/utah
For a list of housing and shelter for women, see http://www.womenshelters.org/sta/utah. It’s a list of shelters in the state for women. Put in the name of your town in, and see the list.
I don’t know where you live in Utah, because where to go would depend on that. Deseret Industries has a mentoring program for job seekers in the southern part of the state, and you can check it out at: http://www.resourcereentry.org/user/image/resource-deseret-industries.pdf .
I don’t know much about xamire, but they claim to have a list of felon-friendly employers here: http://xamire.com/felony-friendly/utah.html. You can try them out and see.

andrew hete said...

I have been down for 5 years and want to start a lawn care business how can I find money

Linda Koss said...

I would find a place that does microloans in your community. You can go to a couple of places to find them. One is a Small Business Development Center in your area--find one by using this website: http://www.sba.gov/tools/local-assistance/sbdc. Or, see the Kiva USA website and see if they have microloaning partners near you: http://www.accioneast.org/ or http://www.opportunityfund.org/loans/products. Or try this database of help for small businesses: http://www.aeoworks.org/index.php/site/page/category/find/. It won't be free money, but they are legitimate.

Anonymous said...

Hey Linda,
Thanks for all of your advice on here. I can tell you are helping a lot of people. My question is this. I was in college in Nevada when I got in trouble and went to prison for just under three years. I have about 47k in student loans from college that I was not able to finish. On top of that I was in college to be a teacher and can't remotely pursue that career any longer. I am in default on my loans and as you know it is hard for ex felons to even make ends meat let alone pay hundreds of dollars per month for student loans. I have been trying to find out of there is a way to discharge/cancel or get some type of forgiveness for my student loans. I see grants available for low income and ex offenders but repayment is harder. I now live in Salt Lake City Utah. Any help or thoughts your could give on this would be greatly appreciated.

Linda Koss said...

I'm not a student loan expert, but here's some information that might be helpful, but it's not easy. If you have truly gone into default, you cannot take advantage of the forbearance and alternative repayment options UNLESS you rehabilitate the loan. This means that you reach an agreement with the lender to do some repayments that mutually agree that you are able to do and make on-time payments for them during a 9 month rehabilitation period. If you do, you can repair the default and take advantage of some of the alternative plans.

For more information on how to go through rehabilitation, see:

www.ecmc.org/details/loanrehabilitation.html

However, it's a one-shot deal. If you fail, you can't try again.

Here's more on repairing a default:
https://studentaid.ed.gov/repay-loans/default/get-out

Here's more on deferment or forbearance once you rehabilitate the loan:

https://studentaid.ed.gov/repay-loans/deferment-forbearance

Finally, here's some information on alternative repayment plans, like income-based repayment plans:

https://studentaid.ed.gov/repay-loans/understand/plans

Good luck to you.



Anonymous said...

Hi Linda,
I live in Nashville TN. Recently released from prison; food, money ,clothing, shelter.. the necessities. But I'm struggling with paying the reinstatement fee on my Drivers license. I disqualify for any kind of assistance that common in TN . Driving is 40% of my job. I'm also a full time student at ITT tech. Is there a grant that helps ex offenders get ahead.?

Linda Koss said...

I spoke to a gentleman in the Tennessee Dept of Rehabilitative Services, and he knows of no such grant. He added that the TN Safety Department tends to be hard-headed about such issues. However, he suggested that you contact Project Return Inc. in Nashville (615-327-9654), 1200 Division Street, Suite 200 to see if they can intercede or come up with some other solution or resources. Good luck.