Village of Hope: Helping formerly incarcerated people start fresh
December 12, 2022A new Pallet shelter village in Bridgetown helps formerly incarcerated people navigate the challenges of building a life after exiting the judicial system.
A safe place to regroup
Village of Hope, a new Pallet shelter village in Bridgeton, New-Jersey, will provide safe, stable transitional housing for people recently released from prison and on parole who have nowhere to turn and might otherwise face homelessness.
“Homelessness is a problem,” said Bridgeton mayor Albert Kelly. “And this is one way of demonstrating how we can not only house those who are coming out of a halfway house, but perhaps we can expand on this for our homeless in our inner cities. And that’s what our hope is.”
Collaboration is essential in bringing a Pallet shelter village to life. Gateway Community Action Partnership, a New Jersey-based nonprofit, and The Kintock Group, a nonprofit that focuses on reentry programs, worked together to get the village up and running. It’s centered around six 100-square-foot Pallet shelters, and sits adjacent to a Kintock Group recovery residence. Residents will have access to shared bathrooms, picnic areas, and a community room.
Six residents at a time will stay for up to 180 days, supported by an ecosystem of essential services to help them acquire state ID cards, find work, access health and wellness care, and eventually secure permanent housing.
Each Pallet shelter provides a dignified personal space with a bed, a desk, heating and air conditioning, storage for belongings, outlets for devices, and a mini fridge—plus a door that locks for privacy.
A difficult transition
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), nearly 6.9 million people are on probation, in prison, in jail, or on parole at any given time in the U.S. Every year, more than 600,000 will be released from state and federal prison—many without anyone to assist with the challenges of reentry. With a history of incarceration, most will have trouble finding employment and housing, both crucial to building a new life.
That difficulty is compounded by social and economic barriers that contribute to recidivism and homelessness. A Prison Policy Initiative report shows that formerly incarcerated people are almost 10 times more likely to experience homelessness than the general public. And according to HHS, nearly two thirds of prisoners are rearrested within three years of release, and half are reincarcerated. Without adequate support throughout the challenges of exiting the judicial system, chances of recidivism are likely to increase.
A way forward
There is no one-size-fits all approach to support those exiting the judicial system or seeking a path out of chronic homelessness. But stable transitional housing with close proximity to essential support services is a proven model.
Pallet shelters provide safe, dignified space in healing community surroundings. With a network of services on-site, people can begin to think about the next step. We believe people should be defined by their potential, not their past—and a positive future starts with a safe space to sleep and a supportive environment.
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