RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Carlos Jackson is beginning a new life. Released from the Richmond City Justice Center just last week, he is now moving forward with a new attitude.
“It would help to have some employment,” he says during his ride from the City’s parole office to his new apartment on the North Side. “This is definitely, like, a jump-start.”
Jackson is the first recipient of a new housing scholarship set up by The Community Foundation, Homeward and the Richmond Sheriff’s Office. It is designed to help those inmates who were homeless before their sentence.
“Without providing housing for folks when they come out of jail, it just puts them in the exact same situation that they were in before and, hence, the revolving door,” explains Dr. Sarah Scarbrough, the Internal Program Director at the Sheriff’s Office.
Adds Jackson, “The wrong decisions can definitely change your life in a matter of minutes, and that’s what I did.”
Jackson, a Virginia State graduate, lost both of his jobs in 2010, got into drug dealing and using and lived on the streets for three and a half years. He was arrested several times. In February, he finally ended up behind bars.
“I like to use the term ‘rescued’ instead of arrested this time because I felt like it kind of saved my life,” he says.
Jackson got involved in the jail’s REAL (Recovery of Every Day Addictive Lifestyles) program, which focuses on behavior modification in an effort to reduce recidivism. About 25-percent of REAL participants were homeless before their arrests. They can now apply for the housing scholarship, furnishings and food donated by local churches.
“It’s like a little kid at the fair. It’s hard to digest everything so fast,” Jackson says about his adjustment to life again on the outside.
As he stocks his kitchen cabinets with food from local pantries, Jackson knows he has a support system. People believe in him, and this scholarship has set him up for success.
“I’m ready to move on into a new direction.”
The scholarship pays for two months in an apartment, like Jackson’s, a recovery house or treatment program, depending on what the inmates need when they are released from jail. The Community Fund is accepting donations for the fund. Follow this link and specify “Housing Scholarship Fund” or write a check to “The Community Foundation” and designate “Housing Scholarship Fund.” Checks can be mailed to: 7501 Boulders View Drive, Suite 110, Richmond, Virginia 23225.