Despite its hustle and bustle, finding a job as an ex-convict in NYC is no easy feat. This does not mean that it is impossible, but you will need to accept rejections as part of the process. Ex-felons can start by preparing to enter the workforce by taking courses and improving their skills. They can also seek out organizations that exist to help them find work.
When looking for companies that hire felons, and jobs for felons in NY, it is a good idea to contact the organizations that help with this process. Some of the well-known groups for this purpose are:
- STRIVE (http://striveinternational.org/): Ex-felons will find themselves getting ready for the world of work with job preparedness training, and skills training in areas such as certified nursing, computer technician, light maintenance and medical billing. In addition, STRIVE helps to place those they train in jobs, and it continues to work with them to help them succeed.
- Center for Employment Opportunities (http://ceoworks.org/) (CEO): This organization helps released felons to prepare for work after imprisonment. The CEO website refers to part of their services to felons as being “free-of-charge employment agency” for the businesses with which they have a relationship. Unlike some organizations, CEO’s work does not end with placing ex-inmates in jobs. Instead, they continue to work with them by providing counselling and career planning guidance.
- America Works (http://www.americaworks.com/): This agency helps to prepare ex-prisoners for the process of seeking jobs, and it helps place them in jobs when possible.
Other job resources that ex-convicts can research include:
- Brooklyn Workforce Innovation (BWI) (http://www.bwiny.org/)
- The Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services (CASES) (www.cases.org)
- Exodus Transitional Community (www.etcny.org)
Free Programs for Ex-Felons in New York
Searching the Internet can help ex-felons and their loved ones find programs that cater to helping former prisoners make a life on the outside. For those without Internet access at home they can always go to a public library for help. Some of the programs that are worth exploring are:
- Bowery Residents Committee (http://www.brc.org/) (BRC): this helps newly released prisoners to navigate life outside prison. They help with housing (both permanent and temporary), job placement and health services. BRC places special emphasis on helping those inmates with mental health issues.
- Center for Community Alternatives (http://www.communityalternatives.org/) (CCA): Through its diverse range of programs, CCA, helps at-risk youths and others to keep free of prison and remain free through alternatives to incarceration. They offer a range of services to help those seeking employment, such as skills training and job search assistance.
- The DOE Fund Ready, Willing and Able Program (http://www.doe.org/): This program is a full-service provider for former prisoners offering help with training, housing and counselling.
Housing for Felons in New York
Finding suitable housing is an important part of the rehabilitation process for ex-inmates. While some people will leave prison having a home to return to, many will be faced with homelessness. The task of finding someone willing to rent to a former felon can be difficult. Most of the available housing for felons is either:
- Short-term, transitional housing for the newly released
- In neighborhoods that are crime-prone and where it is easy for ex-felons to fall back into a life of crime, or
- Not in the best condition
Thankfully, there are organizations that make it possible for ex-felons to find a suitable place to live. One of these organizations, The DOE Fund Ready, Willing and Able Program (http://www.doe.org/) offers a range of services including housing assistance. There are housing solutions for not only ex-convicts, but also for people living with HIV/AIDS, physical and mental disabilities and those in need and facing homelessness.
For female felons, there is Providence House (http://providencehouse.org/), where women and their children can find temporary shelter. Help with finding permanent housing is also part of the package for those who come to Providence House for help.
The federal government also offers assistance to some categories of ex-felons to find some type of housing. The PATH: Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (http://pathprogram.samhsa.gov/resource/housing-series-finding-housing-for-people-with-criminal-histories-51594.aspx) has information on housing solutions for people with criminal histories. Of course, some ex-felons cannot receive some benefits if they are registered sex offenders or involved in drug trafficking or manufacturing.
Felons in NY have a lot of programs that they can access to help them turn their lives around and leave the life of crime behind. The main challenge is knowing where to start looking. Asking for help from parole officers, pastors and others in their network including former felons is the best way to find the help that is available.
For the ex-felon who is willing to keep trying, finding jobs for felons in NYC will eventually yield results. While many of the jobs will be minimum wage positions, with patience and a good attitude, some former prisoners have been able to move on to more important roles.