$1.88 Million in Investments Proposed for Office of Returning Citizens
In commemoration of National Reentry Week, today Mayor Michelle Wu shared her commitment to enhancing opportunities for returning citizens through a proposed $1.38 million Fiscal Year 2023 operating budget investment into the Office of Returning Citizens. This investment increases the office’s total FY23 operating budget to $1.88 million, which will expand the office’s capacity for additional staff, case management, and other wraparound support services. Additionally, Mayor Wu announced today that Project Opportunity will be hosting information sessions and a job fair series to foster opportunities for people returning to the City after release from state, federal, and county facilities.
“The work of the Office of Returning Citizens is a crucial part of the City’s efforts to address the inequitable harms of incarceration and its impacts on communities of color,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “This proposed increased investment represents a step towards building strong pathways towards ensuring that our returning citizens are coming into community with the supports and stability they need to grow and thrive.”
“The Office of Returning Citizens serves as an important reminder of the City’s commitment to promote public safety, end homelessness, and advance racial equity” said Dr. Rufus Faulk, Director of the Mayor’s Office for Public Safety. “We are beyond grateful for Mayor Wu’s leadership and proposed increased investment that will allow us to grow the office and meet the urgent needs of this community.”
The Office of Returning Citizens helps the more than 3,000 people that return to Boston each year from federal, state, and county prisons and jails take healthy steps in their lives through a variety of services. These services include in-person case management with program and intake coordinators, peer mentorships, and warm referrals to key programs and services, including transitional housing, employment, healthcare, education, and legal services. Between the Office’s inception in 2017 and today, the number of yearly clients served by the Office has increased by more than 700%.
Mayor Wu’s historic investment in the Office of Returning Citizens reflects her belief that every resident can reach their full potential regardless of their background, and that the City must play a crucial role in removing barriers to opportunity for residents of Boston. Mayor Wu proposed this investment as part of her proposed Fiscal Year 2023 budget, which requires approval by the Boston City Council.
“This investment is just the beginning of the work we must do to make sure our city addresses the policy harm that has led to mass incarceration. We must be in deep community partnership with organizations doing the work on the ground to undo past harm and to remove barriers that make re-entry difficult,” said City Councilor Ruthzee Louijeune. “I am looking forward to thinking intentionally about how we use city resources for community investments that can make the greatest impact to prevent harm.”
"I applaud Mayor Wu for her commitment to supporting returning citizens,” said City Councilor Brian Worrell. “This landmark funding will play an important role as we work to support our fellow Bostonians and break cycles of incarceration."
Building on the City’s work to support individuals with previous criminal justice involvement, Project Opportunity is a collaborative City initiative led by the City’s Office of Workforce Development (OWD), the Mayor’s Office of Black Male Advancement, PowerCorpsBOS, and SOAR Boston. The program aims to create equitable opportunities for Boston residents with CORIs.
“Boston is truly a city of second chances,” said Bethany Serota, OWD Deputy Director of Workforce Equity & Inclusion. “In our third year of Project Opportunity, we continue to expand on that vision by hosting CORI sealing and expungement clinics, facilitating internal and external trainings to dispel myths around CORI, hosting community CORI-friendly job fairs and soft skills workshops, and working to create more CORI-friendly opportunities and career tracks to support this vital segment of our workforce.”
In celebration of Reentry Week, Project Opportunity is hosting CORI information sessions and a job fair series to increase awareness of reentry programs and offer direct supports to finding employment opportunities.
Information Session: CORI Sealing / Expungement Clinics
Residents are invited to attend a virtual information session on Tuesday, May 3, 6-7 p.m. to learn about free CORI sealing and expungement clinics, how these clinics operate, and which records are eligible to be sealed or expunged. Interested residents will be invited to apply to attend upcoming virtual clinics which pair participants with volunteer lawyers, provided by Lawyers Clearinghouse, who can review an individual’s legal options for sealing or expunging a CORI. If a participant’s record is found to be eligible for sealing or expungement, the lawyers will provide full legal representation throughout the process. Any costs for legal filings will be covered.
This event is free and open to the public. Register here.
Job Fair Series
In partnership with MassHire Downtown Boston Career Center, Project Opportunity is hosting a virtual job fair series to help justice-involved individuals and other job-seekers access job openings, job search skills, educational opportunities, and other resources. The events will be held every Wednesday evening in May:
Resume Basics, Wednesday, May 4, 5-6:30 p.m.
- Interview Basics, Wednesday, May 11, 5-6:30 p.m.
- Resource Fair, Wednesday, May 18, 5-7 p.m.
- Job Fair, Wednesday, May 25, 5-7 p.m.
The series is free and open to the public. Learn more and register for events here.
Additionally, Project Opportunity will host a virtual panel, The CORI Effect: Racial Disparities & Real Solutions, on Tuesday, May 24, 6-7:30 p.m. to explore racial inequities in the criminal justice system and available resources to mitigate their impacts. This panel is free and open to the public. Register here.