People with justice involvement experience economic insecurity and lack of mobility due to challenges in gaining employment, housing, health services, and other basic necessities. In fact, 65% of individuals who come to Fortune earn less than $1,000 per year in reported household income—well below the poverty line. In addition, 89.7% of our participants are unemployed and one in three reported experiencing homelessness at intake. Moreover, legal barriers to securing education and other stabilizing factors compound the challenge of successfully reentering the community.
To help participants achieve economic security and mobility after incarceration, The Fortune Society coordinates access to critical and stabilizing community resources and public benefits. Our Benefits Application Assistance (Single Stop) program helps participants secure access to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid, Supplemental Disability Insurance, and other forms of public assistance available to individuals and families with low incomes.
We work with participants to navigate the application process so they can secure these critical benefits and find financial stability. In addition, the program connects participants with expert advice to help with a wide range of issues, including obtaining government identification, child support, evictions, accessing and correcting Record of Arrest and Prosecution (RAP) sheets, financial services, credit assistance, and more.
In 2017, our Benefits Application Assistance program screened 1,847 individuals and helped our participants secure $3,039,000 in public benefits. We helped 541 participants obtain SNAP benefits; 658 individuals access Medicaid; 108 engage in financial counseling; and 238 engage in legal counseling sessions.
To learn more about our Benefits Application Assistance program, call (212) 691-7554 or visit our Long Island City service center.
*Article by Emerson Soto, Director of Design and Digital Media at The Fortune Society