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This week the Homecoming Project placed its 100th participant with a host family. On Monday, Aug. 7, Surmiche Vaughn and her husband Scott Patterson welcomed Philippe Kelly into their Oakland home. It’s Philippe’s first real home after many years in prison, the last several years spent at San Quentin where he focused on helping people prepare for release, including by connecting them with housing.

Philippe summed up the moment well: “Being incarcerated for so much time, this is what I laid in bed wishing for, that I would change my life so that I can be healthy and whole and in society again. It feels dope … to be on this side.” From his new home in Oakland, Philippe continues to help others with their own reentry journeys.

Surmiche learned about the Homecoming Project from her father Surville Vaughn who has hosted 17 Homecoming Project participants in his home over the past few years.

A creative riff on Airbnb, Homecoming Project, pays local residents a daily stipend of $45 to host someone coming home from prison for up to six months. Project staff provide the coaching and support these individuals need in the initial weeks and months after release. It’s a formula that works.

Since launching five years ago, the Homecoming Project has achieved an unparalleled level of success: Every participant has left the program with stable housing of their own; 95% are employed or enrolled in a job training or educational program; and to date, none have returned to prison — a stark contrast to the high rates of recidivism nationwide.

The Homecoming Project has also channeled more than $470,000 to mostly low- and moderate-income families in Alameda County through the stipends hosts receive. “We often describe the Homecoming Project as a model of shared housing with widely shared benefits,” says project director Bernadette Butler. “The stipends matter, especially in the context of rising costs of living, but the project has thrived and grown mainly because people like Surville, Surmiche, and Scott understand that someone coming home from prison is not the same person they were when they went to prison and deserves a real second chance.”

“During our initial meeting we were impressed with Phillipe,” Scott recalled. “His gratitude to be out of prison is palpable, and he is also young enough to where he can turn his life around.”

The Homecoming Project is the first of its kind. No other program subsidizes the use of existing and underutilized living spaces specifically for people coming home from prison.

“Five years ago, even we questioned whether it would work. Today, people around the country are calling us to ask how to set up a Homecoming Project in their community. That’s the power of a bold idea in action,” said Aishatu Yusuf, Vice President of Innovation Programs for Impact Justice.

Success has led to expansion. The Homecoming Project is now recruiting participants and hosts in neighboring Contra Costa County and preparing to do the same in Los Angeles County this fall.

In September, the Homecoming Project will launch The Center, a new kind of reentry resource focused on individual wellness, personal growth, and community integration and serving not only people exiting the carceral system but also their network of family members and friends and the community at large. Freeing Wellness, the first of many virtual and in-person courses, workshops, and other local and national offerings, begins Monday, Sept. 11. This particular virtual course is free and open to anyone nationwide.

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