WIN Recovery opens Champaign, Ill.-based safe house for women and members of LGBTQ community returning to society after prison
WIN Recovery will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony August 18 to celebrate the opening of the home, which will include remarks by Illinois First Lady MK Pritzker and activist Susan Burton.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (August 9, 2019) — WIN (Women in Need) Recovery will celebrate the opening of its first safe house for women with an August 18th ribbon cutting ceremony and remarks from guests including Illinois First Lady MK Pritzker, A New Way of Life Reentry Project/SAFE Housing Network founder Susan Burton, Alliance for Safety and Justice Vice President Robert Rooks, and Women’s Justice Institute Co-Director/Co-Founder Deanna Benos.
WIN Recovery was founded in 2015 to support women and members of the LGBTQ community, whose needs often go unmet after getting out of prison, jail or substance abuse treatment. The organization’s first, four-bedroom safe home will house up to eight residents, and the organization expects to open a second, five-bedroom home in Champaign in September 2019. In addition to housing, WIN Recovery will also provide residents with employment and educational assistance, and peer mentorship on topics including healing from trauma, personal finance, and parenting.
“The purpose of WIN Recovery is to get at the root of each woman’s need after she leaves prison or substance abuse treatment,” says WIN Recovery founder Bethany Britton. “Nearly 60 percent of women behind bars in Illinois are there for drug-related crimes. Our objective is to stop the addiction-to-prison pipeline and help women heal from the trauma that often leads to their addiction in the first place.”
The idea for WIN Recovery was born when Britton found herself homeless after cycling in and out of jail on drug-related charges and realized that there was no housing in the Champaign-Urbana area for women like her. Because Britton had a felony conviction on her record, she faced many of the same barriers to community reentry — including difficulty obtaining jobs, housing or educational opportunities — that women and members of the LGBTQ community experience after prison. While working toward her Master of Social Work at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Britton created WIN Recovery, initially allowing formerly incarcerated people to live in her own home.
WIN Recovery is part of the SAFE Housing Network, created in 2018 by A New Way of Life Reentry Project founder Susan Burton. Burton started her own reentry home for women in Los Angeles in 1998 after cycling in and out of prison for 20 years. After she left prison for the last time, Burton put everything she had into providing safe, loving, comfortable homes and supportive services for formerly incarcerated women. A New Way of Life operates eight safe houses in total and has helped more than 1,100 women reenter their communities and reunite with their families.
“Women are the fastest growing prison population in America, but unfortunately, there are few resources for formerly incarcerated women anywhere in the country,” says Burton, also a technical advisor for WIN Recovery. “With the SAFE Housing Network, we are able to help organizations like WIN Recovery replicate A New Way of Life’s work in other parts of the country, so that even more women can experience a fresh start after prison. We are proud of Bethany and her team and look forward to helping them serve formerly incarcerated women and members of the LGBTQ population in Champaign.”
Homes that are part of the SAFE Housing Network differ from other reentry programs in several ways: they offer a gender-specific, woman-centered approach; they prioritize the dignity of the women they serve above all else; they center compassion in their approach to reentry; they are culturally authentic for the populations and regions they serve; and they give residents autonomy while expecting personal accountability in return.