Safe Housing Initiative

Published April 11, 2017

The Washington County Maryland project is a collaboration of several groups: Celebrate Recovery, Knights of Malta, Kairos Prison Ministry in Maryland, Street Reentry of Maryland, and Gatekeepers. The faith-based organizations got together recently to share a common observation: Returning citizens leaving prison with a strong resolve to lead a productive life face a great hurdle if they do not have SAFE HOUSING in a welcoming community.

The experience of Gatekeepers is instructive.  This organization was started three years ago by a released inmate.  Gatekeepers provides a life-skills program called “Business of Living.”  Over 200 men and women have come through Gatekeepers’ doors.  What became evident is that no matter how well prepared they were for employment, the probability for success dimmed significant without spiritual growth and safe housing.

Life on the streets without a safe place to live and supportive friends leads the returning citizen into neighborhoods with all the old temptations: drugs, alcohol, prostitution, crime.

On the other hand, fellowship nurtures sobriety, growth, maturity and stability. The Celebrations Ministries housing program provides accountable and affordable Christ-Centered community housing.  The program provides a level of accountability and a place to develop necessary life skills, while providing residents a safe, clean, harmonious, drug and alcohol free housing in a relational community.  This provides residents of the housing community the stepping stones needed to help them successfully reenter society as a disciplined disciple of Jesus Christ.

Through partnership with Celebrate Recovery, Kairos mentoring that starts in prison and continues after release, and Gatekeepers meet-at-the-gate-reentry model, we have a process that works to liberate returning citizens from addiction, reduces recidivism, and makes society safer.

The Maryland Justice Reinvestment Act provides for early release of non-violent offenders.  More inmates will be released soon.  Some will go home to their families but many have been lost touch over the years with their families.  Where will they go?  Back to the neighborhoods where they got in trouble?  Or to safe places where religious values are lived every day?

To learn more about the Safe Housing Initiative, contact Bill Gaertner at billgaertner01@gmail.com or (240) 469-3462

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