ALBANY, N.Y. – The Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York (LASNNY), in partnership with the Albany Housing Authority (AHA), is launching its Juvenile Reentry Assistance Program (JRAP). The program assists individuals up to age 24 who are currently residing in public housing or would be residing in public housing but for their involvement with the criminal justice system as they transition back into society and secure jobs and housing. Between 2010 and 2014, 5,502 individuals in the Capital Region were counted in this demographic.
JRAP will provide these young people with access to educational resources, employment placing and other core services afforded to public housing residents in Albany. Those in the program will also work with a staff attorney from LASNNY to assist with legal issues they may be facing. The services will be offered through AHA’s W.A.G.E. Center, located at their central offices on Green Street in Albany.
“Providing support and re-entry assistance will reduce barriers to public housing, employment and educational opportunities. Our intention is to support youth in realizing their full potential,” said Wendy Wahlberg, deputy director of strategic operations, LASNNY. “The Albany Housing Authority has always been a valued community partner. Our additional re-entry-focused legal services are a natural complement to the W.A.G.E. Center’s expansive and holistic services for public housing residents.”
The program is the result of a competitive bidding process in which LASNNY and AHA were providers in one of three New York cities awarded the grant by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) this June. It is also consistent with HUD’s recent guidance for Public Housing Authorities and owners of federally-assisted housing on excluding the use of arrest records in housing decisions.
“The JRAP grant provides a second chance for young people, giving them the opportunity to work with the attorney to create a new start,” said Steven T. Longo, executive director, Albany Housing Authority. “Support services such as a Work Experience Program, education and training, available at the W.A.G.E Center provide all the tools necessary for that fresh start.”
“Even though civil legal aid attorneys do not represent defendants in criminal proceedings, they can play an important role in dismantling a system that fuels a cycle of re-incarceration by continuing to punish people long after they have served their time.” said Lillian Moy, executive director, LASNNY.
“An encounter with the criminal justice system should not be a lifetime sentence for young people,” said Albany Mayor Kathy M. Sheehan. “Our youth need support to find stable housing and quality jobs when they return home so they can reach their potential and contribute their talents to our community. We thank HUD, the Albany Housing Authority, and the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York, who worked to secure this important funding for our city and our youth.”
About Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York:
The Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York’s (LASNNY) mission is to provide effective, free civil legal services and education to and advocacy for people with low income or other barriers to accessing the legal system. We secure basic needs, protect and preserve legal rights, provide equal access to justice and seek fairness and dignity for our clients. For more information about LASNNY, visit us at www.lasnny.org.
About Albany Housing Authority:
Since its creation in 1948, the Albany Housing Authority has evolved to provide leadership in meeting the needs and aspirations of its residents and their communities. More than just housing, today the Authority offers families a foundation from which to build successful lives, inspiring investment in self and community through quality rental, homeownership, employment and small business opportunities. We are able to partner for those who wish to transform their future, and that of their community, into one of choice. Visit us at www.albanyhousing.org.