Original Article: https://www.thewhig.com/news/report-calls-for-removal-of-barriers-to-housing-for-ex-offenders?utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Facebook#Echobox=1620312864
A report from Sophia Lachapelle, a research assistant at the University of Ottawa and former a graduate student at Queen’s University, says former incarcerated people are experiencing challenges with reintegration into the Kingston community, especially when it comes to finding adequate housing.
The report, published Wednesday and titled “It’s set up so you trip and fall,” is about formerly incarcerated people’s experiences of prison-to-community reintegration in Kingston, based on first-hand accounts, and it illustrates some of the barriers ex-offenders face upon release from prison locally.
“Understanding what keeps formerly incarcerated people from achieving successful reintegration is vital in all of our communities, but especially here in Kingston, in the prison capital of Canada, Lachapelle, also a prisoners rights advocate, said in a news release. “We need to understand that reintegration is far from easy. It’s not only a physically and emotionally exhausting experience.”
She also said reintegration is also practically and logistically impossible.
“If we truly want to address these inequalities in our community, it’s crucial that we take the experiences and expertise of formerly incarcerated people seriously,” she said.
Lachapelle also said people with prison experiences are rarely given the opportunity to participate in discussions about municipal policy and practice, and she calls on the City of Kingston and other local policy-makers to listen to their concerns.
Lachapelle’s report, based on her graduate research at Queen’s, includes six recommendations, which were collected from the lived experiences of ex-offenders living in the community.
Lachapelle hopes the city, Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox and Addington Public Health and local reintegration service providers will consider her findings, which call for:
• Establishing a collaborative resource hub specifically for people with prison experiences;
• Creating a system navigator position within the local public health unit to assist and advocate for the health and well-being of people with prison experiences during their reintegration;
• Building more safe and affordable housing;
• Creating municipally operated accountability tools for landlords of low-income and affordable housing to ensure these units stay safe and habitable;
• Establishing a client-led, empathy-driven case management system for people with prison experiences;
• Prioritizing the emotional healing of ex-offenders during the reintegration process.
“The first priority upon release, and the largest challenge, is securing sustainable and affordable housing,” Kathryn Londry, executive director of the Elizabeth Fry Society of Kingston, said in a statement. “This is the first step in moving formerly incarcerated people from marginalized, disadvantaged positions to thriving, independent and stable ones.”
Lachapelle will be hosting a virtual panel discussion with Diane Smith-Merrill (HARS), Fran Chaisson (P4W Memorial Collective) and Rachel Fayter (University of Ottawa) on Tuesday, May 11, from noon to 1 p.m. The session will be introduced and moderated by Lisa Guenther, Queen’s National Scholar in Critical Prison Studies and Political Philosophy at Queen’s University.
Those who would like to participate in the panel discussion can register at us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZMsdeygpjkoE9wOe7iOT5iFWOe7ZysE759Q.
Community members can also watch the discussion through Facebook livestream at fb.me/e/F3aOLfHy.