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Austin/Travis County Reentry Roundtable

October 2016

News from the Roundtable

Meet Our FY2017 Reentry Roundtable Officers! 

We are happy to announce that we have new officers for the Roundtable! We would like to welcome the incoming officers in their new positions:   
  • Helen Gaebler, JDUT School of Law - Chair
  • Melissa Orren, Community Representative - Vice-Chair
  • Sarah Pahl Worthington, MSSW, JD Texas RioGrande Legal Aid - Immediate Past Chair
  • Reggie Smith, Community Representative - Executive Committee Reentry Advocacy Project Representative
Thank you to those who served as officers this past year for your tireless work and commitment:
  • Laura Sovine, LMSW-AP, Austin Recovery - Immediate Past Chair
  • Sarah Pahl Worthington, MSSW, JD Texas RioGrande Legal Aid - Chair
  • Darwin Hamilton, Community Representative - Executive Committee Reentry Advocacy Project Representative
2015-16 was a pivotal year for the Roundtable (for more information see our Annual Report below). We look forward to what's to come for the Roundtable in 2016-17!

Coming Soon! Locked Out: Addressing Criminal History Barriers to Affordable Rental Housing in Austin & Travis County Report

Imagine reading the following statement on your rental application: 
Applicants or occupants that have a history involving offenses that are not classified on the applicable screening materials will be considered to be offenses requiring rejection unless otherwise shown to be offenses that do not require rejection.”

Make sense to you? Didn't think so. We don't think it's fair that applicants with criminal histories need to waste their time trying to understand circular and confusing language, pay application fees to properties who don't make their criminal background screening policies clear, or be denied for charges or even just arrests that happened eons ago. In the past year the Roundtable has been assessing the criminal background screening policies of publicly funded affordable housing projects in Austin. This information has never been gathered at the local level, and was compiled to help the City and County to understand current criminal history barriers in accessing affordable rental housing and to inform new policies, strategies and resources to reduce such barriers.

We are putting the finishing touches on the report and are excited to share it with you later in October. Look for it in your inbox!

Some Serious Accomplishments: Fiscal Year 2015/16 Annual Report


Check out our 2015/16 Annual Report to learn about the key accomplishments of the Roundtable, meet some amazing members and allies, and learn more about our financials and sector representation.

Featured Reentry Advocacy Project Member: Karen Keith

What are the top challenges that you faced when reentering? Employment was huge, still is as I am in a temp assignment. Finding that one person to give you a second chance is very difficult and very stressful. Five hundred+ applications submitted, not one interview from any of those companies. Finding resources for basic needs was another, without money it's hard to purchase things like toilet paper, deodorant and shampoo/conditioner, let alone a bus pass so you can attempt to get resources and apply for work.

What resources have you found most helpful for reentering? For me, it’s been the emotional resources that have sustained me; the strength and encouragement from those who have gone through reentry themselves.

What drives your passion and makes you excited to get out of bed in the morning? My choices/actions led me to prison – the cost was too high for me. Going to prison cost me my 3 children (and 3 grandchildren) and there is not greater loss to me than my 3 loves. My 3 loves; forever will be my 3 loves. They are the air I breathe, why my heart still beats, the reason I wake up each day and try to do better, be better, and the reason I choose each day to help others.

Read the Full Interview

Local Events and Opportunities 

Mass Story Lab on October 10th:
Spatial Stories of Migration and Detention

What happens when you bring together storytelling, dialogue, and design? You get a Mass Story Lab, an interactive storytelling event that promotes community, creativity, and justice. In a Mass Story Lab the experiences of people directly impacted by mass incarceration become a catalyst for imagining a world beyond prisons.

About Mass Story Lab: Mass Story Lab travels to communities across the U.S providing a model for participatory storytelling that promotes community building, creativity, and justice. Each community chooses a theme for their interactive lab. The Austin Interactive Lab will use stories to explore the intersections between immigration detention and incarceration.

  • Date: Monday, October 10th 
  • Time: 1:00pm to 4:30pm
  • Location: Mebane Gallery - University of Texas School of Architecture B7500 - 310 Inner Campus Drive

Save the Dates!
University of Texas Events on Reentry and Affordability

UT Opportunity Forum: Criminal History as a Barrier to Housing Access
The University of Texas Opportunity Forum is an interdisciplinary collaboration of University of Texas faculty working to foster the expansion of equitable opportunities for low-income Texans. The Forum engages the University and community leaders in developing inclusive strategies to improve low-income Texans' access to economic opportunities. The Forum will present a discussion on Criminal History as a Barrier to Housing Access. 
  • Date: Friday, October 28th
  • Time: 12:00pm to 2:00pm
  • Location: Francis Auditorium - University of Texas Law School - 727 E Dean Keeton St

UT Front Porch Gathering Series: Affordability and Reentry 

The University of Texas Division of Diversity and Community Engagement is hosting a new Front Porch Gathering series that will focus on issues of importance to East Austin. Designed to activate more than just dialogue, the Front Porch Gatherings connect research and resources with engaged community organizations and community members to identify strategies, align efforts, and foster collaborative relationships. Each session works to address issues of equity, disparity, and access through active engagement. There will be a Front Porch Gathering on Affordability and Reentry in November.  
  • Date: Tuesday, November 15th
  • Time: 6:30pm
  • Location: Mt. Zion Church - 2938 E. 13th St

Travis County Sheriff's Office Vision Summit: November 2nd-4th

The Travis County Sheriff’s Office is hosting the 4th Annual Vision Summit: Looking Toward the Future of Re-entry conference in Austin from November 2-4, 2016. The mission of the Vision Summit is to awaken and ignite communities to attain a unified vision and thriving re-entry process that enables the incarcerated to amend their place in the world, by showcasing effective programs, listening to each other and networking to make future possibilities a reality today. 250 attendees from all over the country are anticipated to attend. The Vision Summit will be a highly educational, exciting and memorable event; top presenters in the field of re-entry will inspire our attendees to go back to their respective communities and create change.

For more information, view the event flyer or register here

How Can Transportation and Workforce Development
Help Bridge the Economic Divide?
CAN Regional Economic Summit: November 2nd

Expanding Opportunity, a Central Texas Regional Summit, brings together leaders from across the five county Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos Metropolitan area to explore how we can do a better job getting people to jobs and preparing people who live in our region for the jobs of the future.
  • Date: Wednesday, November 2nd
  • Time: 10:00am to 3:00pm
  • Location: Dell Diamond Heritage Center - 3400 E. Palm Valley Blvd. - Round Rock
Register Here

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Austin/Travis County Reentry Roundtable · Austin/Travis County Reentry Roundtable · 3308 Treadsoft Cove · Austin, TX 78748 · USA

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