To help address the issue, the St. Louis Council of the nonprofit Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVdP) in 2003 launched “Release to Rent,” a comprehensive program to help ex-cons find affordable housing. Since the program was introduced, here’s what’s happened:
• A re-entry success rate of 85 percent after three years, versus a U.S. average of about
48 percent for the same time frame.
• Whereas housing, feeding, clothing and medical care for an inmate in Missouri costs
about $16,000 a year, Release to Rent costs about $7,500 per person per year.
• Public safety is enhanced because fewer people return to a life of crime.
Another successful program is the “Kairos Outside Retreat and Continuous Support Group” for women who have a spouse, a relative or a friend in prison.
“With the ongoing debate about the national budget and the cost of government programs, Release to Rent has been successful in returning people back to their communities and at a much lower cost than what many states spend just to keep people in prison,” said Carleen Reck, SSND, the director of the SVdP’s Criminal Justice Program.
And Sr. Carleen should know: Several former convicts work on the SVdP Criminal Justice Ministry staff.
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One of the oldest and most effective charitable organizations in the world, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (www.svdpusa.org)