By Fran Wilson, Staff Writer
HARTFORD — Beginning on Monday, ex-offenders will have a welcoming center to guide them as they transition back into the community.
“They’ve served their time and it’s time we help them achieve a better future,” said City Councilman James Sanchez.
On Wednesday, city officials and representatives of several community agencies formally unveiled the Re-entry Welcome Center. It is located on the ground floor off Prospect Street. The center will be opened Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
City officials billed the center as a “one-stop-shop” where those returning from prison can get connected to services and supports as they work to successfully reintegrate into their communities.
The Center will be run by Community Partners in Action with support from other community-based organizations. The center was funded by a $450,000 grant from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.
“This Re-entry Welcome Center is about making our city safer and our community stronger,” said Mayor Luke Bronin. “And it’s about helping those who are serious about making the most of a second chance. Helping returning citizens rebuild their lives in our community doesn’t just help those individuals. -it helps their families, their neighborhoods and our city as a whole.”
In 2016, there were 1,021 people released without a probation officer in the Hartford region, according to state officials.
Beginning on Sept. 17, the welcome center will be staffed with three case workers and a program coordinator to help ex-offenders with resources such as food, shelter, and job training. Organizers are
hoping to direct ex-offenders within 90 days of their release from prison. The center will also serve as a data collection hub and track ex-offenders and their success with the program.
“I’m thrilled that as a city we are opening our doors and working directly with people who deserve a second chance,” said City Council President Glendowlyn Thames. “This has been a priority for Mayor Bronin and many of my council colleagues since we took office.”
Hartford’s Reentry Welcome Center is the first of its kind in the region.