Nduka Awanna, Senior Accounts Manager and Employment Services at The Fortune Society

Fortune Manager Applauds Governor Cuomo For His Actions To Remove Barriers To Reentry

Monday, September 28, 2015

Last week, Governor Cuomo announced that 12 recommendations made by the Council on Community Re-Entry and Reintegration, which remove barriers faced by New Yorkers with criminal convictions when attempting to reenter society, will be fully implemented by his administration.

The Fortune Society’s Employment Services senior account manager, Nduka Awanna – who had been denied housing due to his criminal history – was part of the press event where he shared his own story, and thanked the Council for its work to aid people with convictions.

See the video and read his remarks:

REMARKS OF NDUKA AWANNA:

My name is Nduka Awanna and I work for The Fortune Society helping people like myself. I have plenty of first-hand experience dealing with these barriers and have lived with the burden of knowing that they seem to follow you wherever you go.

Obviously, I was convicted of a crime and did my time as a consequence. I know what I did was wrong and I will always regret my decisions at that time of my life.

However, after doing my time, I was ready to emerge from prison as a new me, someone who wanted to achieve meaningful things in New York and start my life on the right path.

But when I first got back to the city, I looked for a while for housing. People don’t want to rent to someone with a conviction. Eventually, I found a friend who had a place for me to stay.

My luck isn’t lost on me. It makes me think about how many people weren’t so lucky, how many people who wanted to make a positive change in their lives and help their families and communities but couldn’t get a fair chance on a rental application.

This burden that I and so many others have faced is one of the many reasons why this Council that the Governor put together means so much to me and others like me. Thanks to him, people with convictions will now get a fair chance on applications for state-funded housing. This could mean the difference between coming home successful and being on the street and I think it should be applauded.

I want to thank the Governor and the Re-Entry Council for making sure that our struggle was not being forgotten, that our desire to change our lives was not being ignored.

I will never hide from the mistakes I have made in my life, but I shouldn’t be prevented from finding purpose in my life either because of my mistakes.

Thanks to the Governor’s Re-Entry Council, I feel a new sense of hope that I will have a chance to show the world my value.

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