A local nonprofit is opening its doors to women returning to Charlotte after incarceration.
On Thursday, Charlotte-based nonprofit Beauty After The Bars celebrated the grand opening of its first “SAFE home,” a transitional housing facility open to women looking for housing post-incarceration.
Beauty After The Bars is a part of the Sisterhood Alliance for Freedom and Equality (SAFE), a network of organizations that offer re-entry services and support to the formerly incarcerated.
Why it Matters: Mecklenburg County receives around 1,200 residents returning from state incarcerations each year.
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People formerly incarcerated are at higher risk for a variety of health issues, homelessness and substance abuse.
Mecklenburg County reported people who were formerly incarcerated are ten times more likely to experience homelessness and that 30 to 40% experience chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.
According to Mecklenburg County, up to 20% of people involved in the criminal system suffer from mental illness and 50% suffer from substance use disorder.
The new facility can provide housing for 10 to 12 women and will begin accepting women next week.
Tiawana Brown, the founder of Beauty After The Bars, says each woman at the facility will have an individual living plan for how long she will stay and what resources she needs. Women can stay at the SAFE home for up to two years.
“They need resources galore,” Brown said.
Brown says women at the facility will receive a wide arrangement of support, from learning to use an iPhone to securing transportation and finding employment.
“A woman coming home from incarceration pretty much doesn’t have anything,” Brown said. “We’re going to meet them right where they’re at.”
“We’re not going to contribute to the homeless population,” Brown said. “We’re going to make sure they have somewhere to stay and they are ready to live when they leave.”
Women can be referred to the SAFE house by family members and case workers or can even refer themselves by visiting their website.
While children cannot stay at the home, families are welcome to visit.
The program is funded entirely through A New Way of Life, a nationally acclaimed reentry program run by other formally incarcerated women.