The Newark Housing Authority will hold a virtual public hearing later this month to give local residents a chance to weigh in on a program aimed at helping recently released inmates transition back into the community.
The family re-entry program will give people recently released from incarceration an opportunity to reunite with family members living in public housing for up to two years. During the program, participants must comply with the terms of any applicable community supervision, and will be offered various support services such as help securing employment, continuing their education and obtaining benefits. After participants successfully complete the program, they can request to be added to their family’s lease permanently.
Under current NHA policy, those on probation or with a conviction in the past five years are automatically denied entry, meaning that people released from prison couldn’t go live with a spouse, parent, sibling, etc. in public housing while trying to get back on their feet.
The re-entry program is a collaboration between the Delaware Department of Correction, the Delaware Center for Justice and the state’s five public housing agencies – Delaware State Housing Authority, Dover Housing Authority, Wilmington Housing Authority, New Castle County Housing Authority and Newark Housing Authority.
NHA signed on as a partner last month, prior to doing any public outreach, which drew the ire of Mayor Jerry Clifton.
Clifton said that while he “fully supports” re-entry programs and efforts to reduce recidivism, he accused NHA of approving the program in secret and leaving the public and Newark’s government in the dark.
“The public has had no time and no ability to weigh in with any opinions on it,” Clifton said last month. “It was literally done by, in my opinion, secret society without any transparency or public involvement for the city or for its residents. I find that extremely disconcerting.”
NHA officials said they had intended to have a public meeting earlier this year, but it was delayed due to the pandemic.
The meeting is set for Aug. 20 at 5:30 p.m. Those interested can log into www.gotomeet.me/NewarkDECityCouncil/newark-housing-authority-public-hearing or dial in by phone at 786-535-3211 (access code: 427-702-437).
Comments on the plan can be mailed to 313 East Main Street, Newark, DE 19711 or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org though Sept. 10.