Having a place to call home is a foundational step in rebuilding one’s life after incarceration. For those returning home from incarceration, there is not always a clear path towards housing. Gaining access to supportive and affordable housing is one of the biggest barriers to success for justice-involved people.
At The Fortune Society, thanks to the incredible generosity of our donors and stakeholders, we are able to provide many of our participants with supportive, emergency, transitional and permanent homes. We are also able to offer support and services during the process of finding housing, such as offering counseling and case management, daily fresh meals and employment assistance. Once they have a stable place to live, they can continue their journeys toward self-sufficiency.
Fortune participant, Annette, has spent many hours at our Long Island City office taking courses and talking to her counselors and case managers about the tools she needs for success. Now, Annette is onto her next step: finding stable housing for her and her family.
“I live in the shelter system with a partner. For me to be in the shelters for almost three years, it’s a little too much,” said Annette. “And the shelter system, it’s really hard.”
Thanks to Fortune, Annette was recently connected with an affordable home for her and her family after years of living in a shelter.
From her new home, she hopes to advocate for other women and mothers in need of services after incarceration. She plans to encourage them to come to Fortune for assistance in finding a home.
“We’ve come home from jail, and we don’t know where to go,” she says. “But Fortune is great. They open the door and make you feel welcome.”
Rafael was released early during the COVID-19 pandemic and did not have a place to go. He initially moved into Freedom House, our emergency, transitional housing facility for men with behavioral health needs and eventually relocated to The Castle, our transitional, supportive housing facility in West Harlem.
One of Rafael’s goals after release was to help those in similar situations to his own. While at the Castle, he became a Fortune case manager in Family Services. and is now on a more stable path.
Thanks to his steady employment, Rafael recently qualified for a housing voucher which allows him to move into his own affordable apartment. Rafael is looking forward to getting his own place and giving his spot in The Castle to someone else on their own journey towards a permanent home.
Sometimes, participants find their forever homes at Fortune. Barbara has lived in Castle Gardens since its opening more than a decade ago. She came to Fortune after experiencing prolonged bouts of homelessness with her daughter, Nemiah.
She found living in a shelter with a young child incredibly challenging. Barbara felt a lot of pressure to move out of the shelter they were living in and into a space with fewer amenities available for her and her daughter. Both Barbara and her daughter have food allergies and living in a shelter made shopping for groceries and cooking difficult.
Barbara applied for an apartment at Castle Gardens before the building was even complete – one of the hundreds of applicants hoping to qualify for an affordable unit in Fortune’s building. Getting an affordable apartment in New York City is extremely difficult and there are often thousands of people applying for the same unit. It’s even more for people with a justice history who are often illegally discriminated against when trying to find a place to live.
Luckily, Barbara and Nemiah were accepted and moved into Castle Gardens upon its opening.
“I could not wait to move in,” Barbara said, and she and her family have since enjoyed all that Castle Gardens and the Fortune community have to offer. “If it wasn’t for The Fortune Society, honestly, I don’t know where my daughter and I would be.”
Barbara shared what home means to her and how Castle Gardens reflects that meaning. She sums it up in just one word: security. Barbara adds, “to this day, my daughter and I walk in [to Castle Gardens], and say, ‘home sweet home.’”