Copy of Secrets: Returning Citizens

02/06/2024

Secrets: Returning Citizens


My reality for the past year. 

I get at least 2 requests a month to house a man who has been imprisoned past his parole date. Typically, he's been incarcerated for 6 mths to a year beyond his parole date. Why would someone still be in prison past their parole date?

  • Sentenced under the Old Law, which requires them to have an address to parole out to.
  • No money to pay for housing because they've been incarcerated for 10, 20, 30 yrs. No one will give them an address to parole out to if they don't have money to pay.
  • Sentenced under new law but with a special requirement to have an address to parole out to, and no money to pay for housing. 
  • No Money. No Money. No Money. Someone paroling out of prison is given $40. What a joke. The $40 is on a card that charges them to retrieve it. In the 1st 48 hrs they have to check-in to their parole officer twice. That's 2 bus rides to and from parole. $20. They need to buy their KS id. That's $25. Whoopsie. The money is gone.
  • No one will house the person, even though they've served their time, have the money to pay for the housing, will be monitored, will be on parole - because no one can accept the crime that was committed.

Yes. I take people on parole, probation, drug court that meet the requirements for Sober Housing. Please stop to think of the implications of not taking them. In Wichita, a large portion of our returning citizens are being released to the homeless shelters. Wait. Go Back. Read that again. A large portion of our returning citizens are being released to the homeless shelters. 

I hope you can see the problem with having a person on parole or probation living in a shelter. Please ask if you don't. (I'll write about it.) There's a host of reasons this is the worst possible situation. Shared Housing with accountability - where there are strict rules governing substance abuse, weapons, curfew, and more - are proven to be a great place for people to transition back into our society. 

The City of Wichita has zoning laws that are in conflict with the Fair Housing Act of 1968 and Amended in 1988. Every time I open a home the Sedgwick County Commercial Zoning calls and reminds me that I can only house two people on papers (parole, drug court, probation) per location. I've talked to Oxford and many other operators in the area. They've never heard of this zoning rule and never received the warning. Regardless, I comply. 

I can promise you that all other Sober Homes in Wichita have more than 2 people on papers. So why do I receive this repeated warning? I believe it's because I'm the owner/operator daring to put my homes in middle class and upper class neighborhoods. My neighbors continue to alert zoning and file complaints. I continue to field the zoning agent's questions, the police questions, city council questions, and fully comply.

Wichita. Our response to a person's crimes is determing who gets housing and who becomes homeless. There's a reason this the Fair Housing Act disallowed these kinds of laws. It's cuts people out of housing. 

I firmly believe we should stop punishing people after they've served their time inside - cutting them out of jobs and housing after they've been released through our self-righteous judgments. 

My next post: 

Secrets: Women fleeing Sex Trafficking or Domestic Abuse - No one's ready