We were very happy to hear from a Seattle resident currently living in our transitional housing program in Seattle. He shared his story with us.
"The thing I am most proud of is my ability to persevere and be successful despite the vast number of obstacles I have encountered as a result of being incarcerated. It has been a lot of hard work and a struggle, but with help from organizations like Pioneer, my transition back into the community has been a successful experience.
"Upon release from prison, I was overwhelmed with decisions – many that I hadn’t made in years because in prison you are on a tight schedule and told what to do every minute of the day. People need to realize that when you are incarcerated you don’t have choices and when you are released you suddenly are expected to navigate hundreds of important decisions.
"Housing was the most important thing I needed by far since I could not be released without an approved address. The barriers to finding housing for a convicted felon are very high. While in work release, I filled out an application for Pioneer’s transitional housing and secured a studio apartment that the Department of Corrections quickly approved. I can’t even express what a Godsend that apartment has been for me!
"My Pioneer apartment is conveniently located near shopping, busses, the Capitol Hill Light Rail station and it is three blocks from the college where I go to school and work. Fortunately, Pioneer also has affordable permanent housing that I have applied for when I transition out of my current studio. Permanent and affordable housing in Seattle will allow me to continue with my studies and work to continue on my path toward success.
"Pioneer also operates an information office in their Bruksos Apartment building. The office is headed up by Peter Whitney and the referral and information services have really helped me. Peter and the staff at Pioneer want me to be successful and they are there for me. It is a good feeling to know I have access to Peter and Pioneer staff in the housing office when I encounter difficulties. If I encountered a problem, or felt that something was unfair, I‘ve been able to meet with a Pioneer staff member and have the situation resolved fairly and equitably for all parties involved.
"My advice to someone re-entering from incarceration is to not wait for release to begin planning what you want to do after release and take advantage of educational programs offered. To not take steps to help oneself can be a recipe for failure.
"I am a firm advocate for education and its effect on reducing rates of recidivism. I started my pursuit of higher education while still incarcerated earning my AA-DTA Degree, Graphic Design Certificate, learning various software programs and taking math and bookkeeping courses – totaling over 250 college credits and more than 4,000 hours as a teacher’s assistant (TA).
"Currently, I am a full-time student at Seattle Central College working towards dual degrees in Programming and Web Development. In the fall quarter of 2017, I begin my Bachelor’s program at North Seattle College in Application Development. I also work as a Re-entry Peer Navigator, tutor, TA, and for Student Leadership at my college. Applying myself and getting assistance from Pioneer has steered me towards success!
"Anyone interested in attending college or vocational training at Seattle Central College or elsewhere should feel free to contact me with questions at: firstname.lastname@example.org."