On August 24, 2020, A New Way of Life Reentry Project, in partnership with DePaul Center, opened Villa La Tournelle, the 10th SAFE Home established by A New Way of Life. During this time, Los Angeles was experiencing challenging times due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many incarcerated women were being released — some in the middle of the night with no place to go. There was an urgent need for additional housing for formerly incarcerated people, and A New Way of Life met that need.
The Villa is a former convent located on the campus of DePaul Evangelization Center in Montebello, CA. The Villa is named after the building “La Tournelle” that Vincent rented in the city of Marseilles, France, to house those condemned to service on the French Galleys. The Villa is the Western Province of the Congregation of the Mission’s contribution to the “13-House Campaign” initiated by the International Leadership of the Vincentian Family in 2018. The campaign aims to improve and transform the lives of people experiencing homelessness worldwide.
Since its establishment, 22 women and 38 minor children have called the Villa “Home.” The house features eight bedrooms, a living room/dining room area, a full kitchen, a laundry room, large outdoor spaces, and a garden area. Residents who stay at the Villa have access to the wrap-around services provided by A New Way of Life. Stable housing allows the residents to focus on their next steps and look forward to living a self-sufficient life.
The Villa residents have accomplished many goals since moving in. Tracey graduated with her Bachelor of Arts in African American Studies from UCLA and will continue with a master’s program in Fall 2022. Chantell completed a year-long All of Us or None Community Organizing Fellowship. A New Way of Life is proud to offer a space for these women to grow while on their journey to becoming successful community members.
As we celebrate the success of Villa La Tournelle, A New Way of Life hosted the SAFE Housing Network Training. The SAFE Housing Network is a national collective of formerly incarcerated people working to decarcerate the US by bringing people home to stay, helping them heal from the trauma of incarceration, and empowering them to lead in the fight to end mass incarceration.
The SAFE Housing Network knows that public safety can only exist when everyone in society is provided for and has equal access, opportunities, and rights. The three-day training brought together over 100 people to learn the SAFE Housing Network philosophy, program model, and to participate in panel discussions on community-based reentry programs. Through collaboration and shared learning, participants learn about innovative approaches to integrating trauma-informed practice into reentry programs and how to better serve the needs of this population. In addition to learning best practices, participants have the opportunity to connect with others doing similar work. The training left participants with a renewed sense of purpose and energy as they returned to their communities to continue implementing positive change.
The SAFE Housing Network has SAFE homes in Alabama, Arizona, California, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, Kenya, and Uganda. The organization continues to grow and set the standard for reentry programs for formerly incarcerated people and their families.
As we continue to work toward creating a just society where everyone is treated with dignity and respect, we thank you for joining us in the movement to end mass incarceration.