PHILADELPHIA – The Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity (CEO) and JPMorgan Chase today announced support of the federal Supervision to Aid Reentry (STAR) Program to advance economic justice by providing housing assistance for individuals who were formerly incarcerated.
The STAR Program, also known as Reentry Court, is a program run by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Created in 2007, the program provides intensive supports and wraparound services to Philadelphia residents on supervised release and has been nationally recognized for improving outcomes for individuals with high-recidivism risk and a history of violent crimes.
Finding safe and affordable housing is a significant challenge for many formerly incarcerated individuals. The roughly $160,000 commitment from CEO and JPMorgan Chase will provide a full-time housing counselor from Clarifi, a leading housing counseling agency in the region. The housing counselor will work with participants to create a custom action plan that aligns with their immediate and long-term housing goals, including steps like saving for the first month of rent and identifying safe and suitable housing. Additionally, participants receive financial empowerment services, which focus on building financial resilience through savings, credit improvement, and practicing healthy financial habits. To incentivize participants, those who work toward completing their housing goals will receive grants of up to $1,000.
“Often formerly incarcerated individuals, particularly those of color, are forced to navigate unfair systems that can keep them and their families in poverty,” said Mitchell Little, Executive Director of CEO. “Our mission is to provide them with the tools to navigate those systems so they have a chance to reach their full potential. We believe this partnership does that by removing one critical barrier from their path.”
“JPMorgan Chase is dedicated to using our expertise and business resources to create greater economic opportunity for more people, including those who’ve been formerly incarcerated,” said Steve Wright, Senior Private Banker and Co-Chair of the Philadelphia Market Leadership Team for JPMorgan Chase. “Supporting their reentry into the workforce and community is a meaningful way to get them on the path to success.”
The STAR program engages 30-40 participants annually, the majority of which are people of color from Philadelphia who have low-wage jobs or are underemployed. Participants attend bi-monthly court sessions in front of a judge for 52 weeks, and if they successfully “graduate,” they receive a full year off of their supervision term. The program brings together a group of professionals representing a number of services provided to the participants, including federal judges, their reentry staff, a representative from probation, a tutoring program, an Assistant U.S. Attorney, a Federal Defender, volunteer attorneys and law students, and Temple University’s Fox School of Business financial literacy program.
Of its 255 graduates, only 10 percent have been arrested or revoked, while 14.6 percent of the 355 total participants have been arrested or revoked. This is compared with the district’s 34.5 percent revocation rate for individuals in similar situations. By STAR’s estimations, the program has saved taxpayers $2 million each year.
“Safe and sustainable housing is essential for the wellbeing of all people, but especially for individuals leaving incarceration. Returning citizens are too often forced into unregulated room rentals or even staying with other high-risk individuals just to have a place to sleep,” said Steve Gardner, President and Executive Director of Clarifi. “The instability created by these living situations can snowball into bigger issues and increased odds of recidivism. By helping returning citizens secure housing, we’re stopping this dangerous cycle of repeat detentions and giving these individuals a real opportunity to contribute to their communities and make up for lost time with their families.”
The Honorable Timothy R. Rice, United States Magistrate Judge for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, added: “Returning citizens face enormous obstacles as they attempt to rebuild lives. Without safe and affordable housing, those obstacles can become overwhelming to even the most committed individuals. The counseling and financial assistance provided by our community partners, Clarifi, J.P. Morgan, and the City of Philadelphia, will provide critical resources to returning citizens working toward successful reentry.”
About the Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity (CEO)
CEO provides leadership on issues of economic justice by advancing racial equity and inclusive growth to ensure that all Philadelphians can share in the city’s prosperous future. As the Community Action Agency (CAA) for the City of Philadelphia, CEO awards Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) funds to more than 20 programs that serve thousands of low-income residents each year. More information is available at www.phila.gov/ceo.
About JPMorgan Chase & Co.
JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) is a leading global financial services firm with assets of $3.4 trillion and operations worldwide. The Firm is a leader in investment banking, financial services for consumers and small businesses, commercial banking, financial transaction processing, and asset management. A component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, JPMorgan Chase & Co. serves millions of customers in the United States and many of the world’s most prominent corporate, institutional and government clients under its J.P. Morgan and Chase brands. Information about JPMorgan Chase & Co. is available at https://www.jpmorganchase.com/.