Naomi House, a first-of-its-kind transitional home in North Richmond for formerly incarcerated women and their young children, had a grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday.
The newly renovated duplex at 1724 Fred Jackson Way, formerly owned by the Contra Costa County Housing Authority, had been vacant for many years but will soon house up to eight women and their young children. The families will receive a number of social services including case management, job training and life skills.
A low-interest loan from the county’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program helped fund the home’s $242,250 remodeling project, according to Supervisor John Gioia’s office. Gioia has been a key driver in using funds the county received through AB109, the state’s prison realignment plan, for innovative approaches to reintroducing ex-inmates into society.
One of Naomi House’s first tenants, 34-year-old Michele Bonge, said the home will offer a stable environment to pursue employment. Bonge, who has three kids ages 10, 11 and 14, was released from Solano County jail in February after serving time for grand theft.
“I’ve been couch surfing with friends since I was released,” she said, which has made it difficult for her to get back on her feet.
Gioia said the county is “transforming the way we assist our formerly incarcerated residents by supporting their return to the community.”
Gender-specific programs will be provided by REACH Fellowship, with 41-year-old Joanne Enea, a former inmate who will act as the home’s first case manager.
“REACH helped me to stay out of trouble, and I want to show the women coming out that there’s life after jail,” Enea said.