In response to the ongoing challenges formerly incarcerated individuals face in identifying and securing housing and support after returning to the community, Gulf Coast Community Foundation recently provided a $156,000 grant to Community Assisted and Supported Living, Inc. (CASL).
In February 2020, Gulf Coast partnered with the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) to launch the inaugural Re-entry Navigator Program to positively reintegrate individuals into the community upon their release from the correctional facility. With funding from Gulf Coast, SCSO hired two full-time “re-entry navigators” who connect inmates to reintegration programs before and after they leave the county correctional facility, helping them avoid returning. Since the program's inception, the navigators have connected with 222 inmates in the correction facility and about 40 individuals annually continue to receive support in the community.
To further help individuals with support when reentering society after incarceration, a joint meeting was held on January 12, 2021 between the SCSO corrections leadership team, including the re-entry navigators, and the CASL leadership team, in which they envisioned the Transition Inmates to Supported Housing Project (Transitions). With funding from Gulf Coast Community Foundation, the newly formed Transitions worked with the re-entry navigators to identify potential candidates who would be homeless upon release, and who also have behavioral health challenges, to provide them the opportunity for supportive housing.
With the $156,000 in funding from Gulf Coast Community Foundation, CASL was able to dedicate five beds for this project. CASL case managers worked with individuals to develop plans for success within five days of admission, coordinating food access, transportation services, assistance in applying for benefits, and more.