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2018 Poverty and the Urgency of Prisoner Reentry and Life Restoration
Since 2005 Open Door America has worked to unlock the secret codes of intergenerational poverty in America’s inner cities. Now in year thirteen, our story has greater meaning and urgency than ever before. Having come on line just nine years after metamorphic welfare reform in 1996, we were an immediate beneficiary of the raised social awareness generated by the faith-based initiative movement of the early 2000's. By the end of our first decade, however, a sharp decline in nationwide community development investment, especially in the key area of federal housing, shifted our thinking away from traditional block-by-block redevelopment strategies to individualized programming targeting heads of households, young fathers, and in particular, ex-offenders and current offenders who hold sway in the poorest neighborhoods. Today, 22 years into the nation’s endless rancorous debate over poverty and government spending, we operate in a political and cultural environment where the very existence of entrenched poverty is now openly and counter-factually questioned in Washington. We believe the lessons learned from our improbable survivor's journey and the promising potential of our current efforts to retrieve first-time offenders and restore vetted recidivists are essential to this discussion and critical to America's social and economic future.