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Next Steps Home, Story

REBUILDING LIVES AND FAMILIES

REBUILDING LIVES AND FAMILIES Group meetings and home visits offer support and education to clients and their families. Above, Loretta Walters, Next Steps Home case manager, meets with Pam and her two daughters to discuss school, home life and family relation- ships. Having strong positive family relations are an important part of the re-entry process.

TAKING STEPS TO REACH our WITH HELP AND HOPE TO FAMILIES IN NEED
Our NEXT STEPS HOME ex-offender re-entry program is the culmination of four years of hard work that brings together all the skills and programming expertise of our staff.

For over 25 years, our predecessor, Good Samaritan, was a leading resource for housing in the metropolitan area. The City and County of St. Louis and the United Way have recognized our excellence in program delivery for both our transitional and permanent housing placement programs. For more than 100 years Lutheran Ministries Association has worked with inmates in the city and county jails, and their families, through a variety of programs and ministries. Our new Next Steps Home program brings these ministries together to stabilize families, build communities and reduce crime.

Next Steps Home helps non-violent, non-sexual ex-offenders who have been out of prison for at least six months to secure permanent housing and reunite with their families. We have partnered with landlords to identify safe, affordable housing. Counseling services are available to families as they make the transition to living together and begin to assimilate into mainstream society. Case managers work with clients for up to eighteen months to ensure their success. The program officially began in March 2010 with a goal of assisting 10 client families within the first year and 20 families within two years. By May 2010, ten families were enrolled, and by August we had a waiting list of more than 30 candidates. Successful applicants had to meet specific criteria: they had to have a job, the ability to pay their own rent, and they had to make a commitment to reunite with their families.

When Pam was released from prison she had nowhere to go.

She told her case manager that being homeless was distressing, with endless days of turmoil no viable means of support. “Sometimes, death seemed like a better option,” she said.

Although they had few resources, her parents allowed her to live with them. She slept on the floor for a year, but finally had to move into a shelter. From there, she found a transitional housing program and began to take important steps to improve her life, including participation in Humanitri’s new housing program for ex-offenders, Next Steps Home. It has been three years since Pam was released from prison and became homeless. Through Next Steps Home, she currently has an apartment of her own and is enrolled in a junior college nursing program. She has overcome adversities, and she is learning to make better choices, which has improved her self esteem.