Reggie Santiago opened his eyes and looked at the clock – 4:30 am. As a former prisoner, this was the time for morning headcount, which had been a routine for 30 years, but today he would soon be getting up and getting ready to go to work. He was fortunate to have been released to a sober-living house where his rent would be paid for the first year by a private prison company.
Now on his own, along with five housemates, he was slowly settling into a new routine. With 3-years of probation, Reggie knew his restrictions and was prepared to follow them all. Two months went by, and then the police found drugs in the house where he lived. Reggie wasn’t home at the time, but the police had threatened to arrest all of the tenants. For Reggie, this meant he would be violated and returned to prison. He knew he HAD to get out of that house. But where could he go?
Reggie faced a difficult dilemma. Most landlords require 2 years of rental and employment history. Also, a credit check and background check would reveal he had no credit and he was formerly incarcerated. Because he had only been working a brief time, he hadn’t yet put back significant savings, therefore lacking the necessary funds for first & last month’s rent plus a security deposit. If he moved, his rental funding would not transfer.
While he was still in prison, Reggie met some men through a ministry that sought to display God’s love to the incarcerated. These men had seen the need to help the formerly incarcerated once they were released. They began a ministry known as HELPING OUR RETURNING NEIGHBORS and Reggie reached out to them for help.
HELPING OUR RETURNING NEIGHBORS was able to help Reggie find the necessary funding so he could look for another place to live and when the company he was working for had to close, he was able to find another job through his contacts. He felt so thankful that he had a support group who could help him navigate the challenges he encountered.
Now Reggie Santiago pays it forward by going into prisons, mentoring and coaching those who will be transitioning after they are released. His life is an encouragement to the men, that it IS possible to find success after prison.