Before our work trip to New York City, Root & Rebound enjoyed dinner with a great housing advocate, George Turner, Executive Director at Phatt Chance Community Services, Inc.
Phatt Chance is a nonprofit organization that provides transitional short- and long-term housing and other basic support services to men over the age of 18 reintegrating to society after incarceration.
George’s philosophy for providing transitional housing is unique. He is all about prioritizing the needs of the individual residents. While many transitional homes limit an individual’s time of stay to 6 months or until completion of a predetermined treatment program—meaning you are asked to leave or transition out after a short period of time—George believes that the transition from incarceration into society cannot be allotted a one-size-fits-all timeline. This is why his homes are open for both short- and long-term stays, entirely dependent on an individual client’s needs.
This philosophy distinguishes Phatt Chance from many other housing organizations in the Bay Area and across the country. Many post-release housing options require a new resident to have an addiction in order to be eligible for housing. Many transitional homes require that people be of a specific age group or from a specific county. This leaves many people ostracized and alienated from these services. (For more information on transitional housing issues, read: http://www.urban.org/projects/reentry-portfolio/housing.cfm). Phatt Chance fills a gap in transitional housing because it takes new clients as they are. There are no automatic exclusions expect that all residents must be male and over the age 18. Men escaping homelessness, men with or without addiction challenges, men from a broad age range, and men with different health needs live together and may apply to Phatt Chance’s housing.
Phatt Chance’s housing model is particularly well suited to people who will thrive with greater independence in their living situation because there is minimum structure, but the program asks for the maximum level of personal accountability from the clients. While some people leaving prison and jail need greater structure and treatment support, many people succeed in a less structured living environment where they can have more autonomy and control over their daily lives. Residents at Phatt Chance can pursue employment, continued education, counseling services, and other off-site responsibilities when appropriate and congruent with parole conditions. In return, Phatt Chance clients are expected to uphold the integrity of the homes and to treat each other with respect and dignity.
George likes to say, “When you know better, you do better.” Phatt Chance promotes a culture in which residents teach and learn from one another and uphold the greatest level of respect for self-improvement and community-building work.
Short- and long-term housing solutions are vitally important to successful reintegration after incarceration. How can someone build roots in a community and thrive as a returning citizen without safe and appropriate shelter? We urge you to learn more about Phatt Chance and the many challenges and opportunities one faces in establishing good housing after incarceration.
George Turner has dreams of expanding his housing model to a greater number of clients in need. Phatt Chance would like someday to offer transitional housing and reintegration services for women and improve the transitional housing system overall. We hope to support him in these efforts.
—The R & R Team