The Lincoln County Board of Commissioners this week authorized the purchase of two buildings in Newport to provide transitional housing for non-violent offenders returning to the community. The purchases are being funded with money accumulated from monthly supervision fees community corrections clients are required to pay. Ongoing operational expenses will be covered by the Community Justice Reinvestment Grant Program, established by the 2013 Oregon Legislature.
In 2013, the Legislature passed HB 3194, which shortens the sentences for some non-violent drug and property crimes and provides resources to counties for programs designed to increase the success of offenders transitioning back to the community. Since 2000, the number of Oregonians behind bars has increased by 50 percent, and the Legislature saw that growth as unsustainable. The funding under HB 3194 will provide long term operating support for operations of the program. Signing of closing documents is scheduled for Monday January 25th.
Once the county takes title to the property, it will begin the process of providing assistance to the existing tenants to relocate. Under both federal and state law, the county is obligated to provide assistance and support in locating housing that’s equivalent in quality, location and price, and pay the tenants’ moving expenses. According to Corrections manager Suzie Gonzales this is part of a program called Transition And Programming Services or TAPS.
She said these non-violent offenders when released from jail are expected to turn their lives around and get a job and check in with their probation officer. She said the reality is that they often don’t have a roof over their heads or a place to eat, do laundry or shower. She said the purchase of the buildings will enable them to offer more programs to inmates in need.
photos by Casey Miller