The non-profit organization will welcome women released from local jails and state prisons, as those facilities attempt to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
As Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva scrambles to release people and stop the spread of COVID-19 within local jails, A New Way of Life Reentry Project (ANWOL) is expanding its efforts to help formerly incarcerated women by securing a ninth safe home in South Los Angeles. The house will open within the next few days.
For more than two decades, A New Way of Life has provided reentry services in the Los Angeles area and is uniquely qualified to give safety and support to women being released during this pandemic. ANWOL is a non-profit organization that was founded in South Los Angeles in 1998 by Susan Burton and has provided housing for more than 1,100 formerly incarcerated women and their children, in addition to serving over 3,000 community members with its legal clinics. The organization currently operates eight safe homes in LA and Long Beach that can house up to 55 women at any given time; the addition of a ninth house will raise capacity to 64 residents.
“I can only imagine what it feels like to be imprisoned and unable to socially distance, to be subject to inadequate health care, and to not know whether or not you’ve contracted COVID-19 because of limited or no testing,” Burton. “We can see that COVID-19 is spreading rapidly in jails and prisons, so our newest home will be really important in providing a safe place for women to shelter. We are working closely with the Office of Diversion and Reentry and the Department of Health to facilitate coordinated jail releases so that women being released receive a warm handoff.”
In addition to running nine safe homes in Los Angeles, ANWOL also facilitates the SAFE Housing Network, a nationwide network of housing for formerly incarcerated people founded in 2018. Organizations on the SAFE Housing Network include WIN Recovery in Champaign, IL; Black and Pink in Omaha, NE; Turning Point in Los Angeles; Welcome Home SIS in Byesville, OH; True Beginnings in Las Vegas, NV; Starting Over Inc. in Corona, CA; Founding Mothers in Phoenix, AZ; and We Rise Leadership Collective in St. Paul, MN. These organizations are working in their respective communities to ensure that people being released from jails and prisons have a safe place to land.
Support for ANWOL’s new home has come from Formerly Incarcerated Convicted People and Families Movement (FICPFM), philanthropic organizations, individuals, and donors in the entertainment industry. A New Way of Life is taking donations for home furnishings via anwol.org and an online Target registry.
To learn more about the work that organizations like A New Way of Life are doing in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, click here to listen to an April 14 interview on KPFK’s “Sojourner Truth” with Burton and Daryl Atkinson, co-director of Forward Justice.