New housing project welcomes ex-offenders
Keeping a man or woman in an Iowa state prison costs about $31,000 a year. Services for an ex-offender, including parole and probation supervision: Less than $3,600 a year.
“If we can provide appropriate and safe housing for offenders, the other services provided through treatment and counseling tend to fall into place,” said Jerry Bartruff, deputy director of offender services for the state Department of Corrections.
In a few weeks, two dozen offenders — and the families of 18 — won’t have to worry about housing. Bartruff and several others were on hand Wednesday afternoon for the dedication of the Mary Lundby Townhomes in southwest Cedar Rapids, a project of the Community Corrections Improvement Association.
The complex at 845 31st Ave. SW includes six single- and two-bedroom apartments, 10 three-bedroom units and two with four bedrooms. The community building houses offices for parole and probation officers and counselors from other agencies. Two support coordinators will help offenders’ families settle in, register for school in the College Community district and locate other services as they work toward self-sufficiency.
The program, Home to Stay, offers offenders many of the services already offered at the Gary Hinzman Center across the street, with the added stability of living with their families. Hinzman, director of correctional services in the 6th Judicial District, said many of the 220 former offenders in the center’s residential programs also support families who must live elsewhere.
“They have to pay to stay there, and they have to support their families somewhere else,” Hinzman said. “This at least eliminates that” financial burden.
Offenders and families will begin moving in Feb. 1. Monthly rent ranges from $330 for one-bedroom units to $550 for the four-bedroom town house. Hinzman said the complex is being filled on a first-come, first-served basis, although sex offenders and arsonists won’t be accepted.
The complex is named for Mary Lundby of Marion, who served in the Iowa Legislature from 1987 to 2008 and who died of cancer last January. She was an early CCIA board member.
“Mary was a champion of women and children,” Hinzman said.“Mary would have been delighted that this has come to completion,” said her widower, Mike Lundby. “She would be proud, and I’m so very proud her name is connected with these town houses.”