RJHO launched in 2020, with one home that could house four men. As of November 2023, we operate four homes in the GTA with room for 17 men and women leaving the correctional system. RJHO residents get accommodation at a rent that is below market-rate and geared to their income, as many people coming out of prison have no jobs and are on Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support programs. Our residents can stay with us for up to four years, and we help them rejoin their communities in varied ways.
How we help
Our program managers, volunteers, and board members all work together to create a network of support for our residents. This includes supporting residents in a wide range of activities and efforts, like:
- Coming together for barbeques and brunches.
- Taking care of their health (often with the help of volunteers, who drive them to medical appointments).
- Joining faith, social, education, volunteer, or athletic groups.
- Rebuilding relationships with family members, loved ones, neighbours, employers, and communities, one step at a time.
Several of our residents have been able to reconnect with their families, sometimes after decades of separation. The fact is, the more relationships a person can build, renew, or repair, the stronger their commitment stay out of prison.
Residents have also been able to use their individual talents in plumbing, gardening, carpentry, and cooking to improve the quality and appearance of their homes. As a result, one landlord gave us first opportunity to rent a second house from them!
What our residents have to say
The year 2000 was pretty bad. I fell into drugs – heroin, cocaine, crack – and I did five years. 2005 came along and I went to a halfway house, and I screwed things up there and got sent back. I just finished in 2018, in December.
I got out of the halfway house and had nowhere to go and ended up at my brother’s place and stayed there for six months; then to my sister’s and just couldn’t’ make a go of it. Harry (a former RJHO Board member) introduced me to people at the John Howard Society and started things going. I got my ODSP back and my CPP and I talked to Harry, and he introduced me to (RJHO). We had a few interviews and I explained to them that I can help out by taking care of the repairs in the house. Things have been going good so far.
A lot more of these houses are needed. I didn’t know that this was the first one. This is huge. There’s so many guys out there, when they come out, because they have a record, they’re done.
Let's have a conversation about how you or your group can assist in finding safe, supportive and sustainable housing for an ex-prisoner in need.