Special to the Gazette
Mayor Michelle Wu last week joined the Human Services Cabinet, PowerCorps, and partner organizations to celebrate the opening of new office space for the Office of Returning Citizens and PowerCorps. The departments moved to 30 Dimock Street in Roxbury, enabling greater resident access to the services offered by the two departments and supporting better connections to the resources at the Dimock campus, which includes health care, mental health and substance use disorder services, and a food pantry.
“The Office of Returning Citizens and PowerCorps Boston are both invaluable departments that provide opportunity for residents,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “Establishing welcoming, public facing resources in community is so important to making critical constituent services more accessible to our residents.”
The Office of Returning Citizens provides case management support and referral services to individuals returning from county, state, and federal correctional facilities to support them in successfully reentering the community. PowerCorps Boston is a paid workforce development program that prepares young adults ages 18-34 with skills to compete in the green jobs economy. Both agencies prioritize residents who have been disproportionately impacted by the criminal legal system.
“This grant opportunity will enable the City to partner with organizations that provide tailored support to returning citizens as they come back to our community,” said José F. Massó, Chief of Human Services. “This grant is indicative of the ORC’s holistic approach to the needs of returning citizens.”
Mayor Wu also announced today the opening of applications for the Health and Wellness Services for Returning Citizens (HW-RC) grant program. This funding seeks to address the mental health and wellbeing challenges faced by Boston’s returning citizens. A total of $200,000 will be available to fund programming such as peer support, recovery, restorative justice circles, yoga, and mindfulness services.
“The work of the Office of Returning Citizens continues to teach us how best to show up for communities and how to help people stay home once they come home. Making mental health resources more accessible reduces stigma and provides funding to community leaders already doing the work to help bring people to wholeness,” said City Councilor Ruthzee Louijeune. “It tells people that we care about all aspects of their health and wellbeing, and I’m proud that we’re collectively sending that message as a city.”
Research shows that over half of all those returning from prison or jail struggle with mental health or substance use disorder. Access to culturally competent community mental health services is routinely one of the top needs requested by returning citizens. This grant serves as a critical intervention to fill this service gap, especially at a time where clinical mental health resources are strained and returning citizens rely on community health services.
“This grant is a great opportunity to partner with our community partners as well as Returning Citizen led organizations to meet the mental health and wellness needs of our City’s returning citizens,” said David Mayo, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office of Returning Citizens.
Applications for the Health and Wellness Services for Returning Citizens Grant proposals are due by November 6, 2023.
The Office of Returning Citizens is committed to dismantling barriers, advocating for the underserved, and establishing robust partnerships to enact meaningful social change. The Office envisions a Boston where returning citizens rejoin their families, excel in their communities, and regain their dignity. For more information about ORC resources, visit ORC’s official website.