The School of Law Legal Clinics has partnered with St. Louis Housing Authority (SLHA) for a $100,000 grant to create a youth re-entry program in St. Louis. The grant, from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Justice, is part of a $1.75 million effort for public housing authorities and nonprofit legal services across the country to provide needed pro bono legal services aimed at youth.
The Legal Clinics will work with SLHA to focus on sealing and correcting criminal records for target youth, removing records by participation in diversion programs and reinstating revoked or suspended drivers licenses. The program will also provide information about collateral consequences of criminal involvement and connect target youth with existing supportive service partners to assist with a variety of needs including employment, housing and health. Another partner includes St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment (SLATE) which will provide referrals to the program and connect youth with training and employment opportunities.
"This is all about giving youth a second chance," said Patricia H. Lee, associate professor and director of the Legal Clinics, at the program's kick off held at the Al Chappelle Community Center. "By providing pro bono legal services, we will be able to give these youth a second chance to get housing, employment, education and healthy solutions. We look forward to working with our partner organizations to make a difference in our community."
According to data from HUD, having a juvenile or a criminal record can severely limit a person's ability to seek higher education, find good employment or secure affordable housing.
"This grant opens up opportunities in education, job placement, housing, healthcare, and a host of other areas critical for youth in St. Louis to become successful," said HUD regional administrator Jennifer Tidwell.
The Legal Clinics plan to begin the grant funded program over the summer.