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Operation New Hope is excited to announce that we are opening our newest program location – READY4WORK Space Coast – in August 2023.
After our successful expansion to Orlando last year, Operation New Hope received a significant increase in State funding to support our continued efforts to build a Statewide Reentry Network with goal of helping the 25,000+ people that leave Florida prisons annually. Hearing of our statewide expansion plans, The Reentry Center of Brevard asked that ONH consider making the Space Coast region the next Ready4Work location. After evaluating the opportunity, the ONH Board of Directors approved the new site in June. Brevard County having the 10th highest number of people returning from Florida prisons, the location’s proximity to our Central Florida Ready4Work office, and the well-qualified existing staff were critical factors in our expansion decision. We are in the process of onboarding the new team and training members on our comprehensive approach to reentry as we launch READY4WORK Space Coast this August.
People returning from incarceration face a multitude of barriers. Employment, transportation, and housing are three of the greatest obstacles. Without adequate access to any one of these three essentials, people are less connected to their communities and therefore, far more likely to re-offend and return to incarceration. Without results driven reentry programs that directly address employment, transportation, and housing needs, communities experience higher rates of crime, unemployment, and recidivism, which are all drains on the local tax base and overall economy.
According to the Prison Policy Initiative, “formerly incarcerated people are almost 10 times more likely to be homeless than the general public.” Lacking adequate access to stable housing means people are disconnected from their communities, unlikely to be hired or retain a job, and therefore are far more likely to return to incarceration. This has been called the “homelessness-jail cycle.” Approximately 68% of formerly incarcerated people are rearrested within 3 years according to the US Bureau of Justice Statistics 2018 Update on Prisoner Recidivism.
Florida has the 3rd largest incarcerated population in the U.S. and 95% of all state prisoners will be released. Therefore, there is a great need for reentry programs like ours to help people rebuild their lives, become self-sufficient, keep our communities safe, and reduce the amount taxpayers spend on incarceration. To meet the needs of the thousands of people who return home every month from Florida’s jails and prisons, it is critical that we continue providing mental health counseling, transitional housing, vocational training, and job placement to ensure they become self-sufficient and not recidivate. Operation New Hope continues to expand our Statewide Reentry Network to serve more.
After prison, more people return to the Tampa Bay area than any other region in Florida. That’s why for the past 8 years, Operation New Hope has partnered with Abe Brown Ministries to provide our nationally-recognized Ready4Work program to returning citizens in Tampa. This year, Operation New Hope and Abe Brown Ministries agreed to begin working independently, which will allow for more assistance and services for people affected by the justice system. Abe Brown Ministries has developed their own program called REENTRY+ as part of their comprehensive services, adding to the established reentry options in the area. To continue to meet the needs of the more than 300 people who return from the Florida Department of Corrections to the region every month, Operation New Hope plans to open READY4WORK Tampa Bay in early 2024. Our goal is to provide services for the region that include Hillsborough, Pinellas and Polk counties. We are currently meeting with community partners and identifying our program location. Stay tuned for more exciting expansion news!