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"When I was released I had nothing": Pathways to Housing and Employment after Jail

Helping Inmates Obtain Vital Documents to Prevent Homelessness upon Release


Wings Homeless Advocacy is proud to announce the expansion of our services to provide vital document assistance to inmates at the Santa Cruz County Jail. Starting with the men's jail on May 23rd, 2023, we will be offering a crucial lifeline to those in need, helping them secure vital documents such as birth certificates, which are often required to obtain jobs, housing subsidies, IDs, and more. As a trusted volunteer-powered organization, we understand the challenges that many inmates face upon release, and we are excited to make a difference in their lives.


“When I was released, I had nothing. No ID, and certainly no birth certificate to get an ID”

The Importance of Vital Documents

The lack of proper identification can be a major obstacle for individuals reentering society after incarceration. Many vital services, such as securing employment, finding stable housing, and accessing public benefits, often require documentation like birth certificates. Without these essential documents, released inmates face the risk of falling into homelessness and struggling to reintegrate into their communities.


“When I was released, I had nothing. No ID, and certainly no birth certificate to get an ID,” said John, a Santa Cruz local who experienced homelessness after serving his time. “How am I supposed to get a job and get a place to live without any of the things I need to make that happen?”


Our New Service for Inmates

At Wings Homeless Advocacy, we recognize the importance of providing support to inmates before they are released from jail. By offering vital document services to the incarcerated population, we are proactively addressing a significant barrier to successful reintegration. In collaboration with the Santa Cruz County Jail, our team will help inmates obtain necessary documents, such as birth certificates, so they can access resources and opportunities more easily upon release.


"If we really want jail to rehabilitate people then we need to give them options when they get out”

How You Can Help

As we embark on this new project, we are calling on our community for help. We urgently need more donations and volunteers to make this initiative a success. Your financial contributions will enable us to cover the cost of acquiring vital documents, while your time and skills can support our outreach efforts to inmates in need. By working together, we can create a lasting impact on the lives of those most vulnerable in our community and give people pathways to housing and employment.


“You can’t get housing without an ID, and many people can’t get an ID without a birth certificate,” said James Young, President of the Board of Wings Advocacy. “So this service is really about getting people ready to get housed and get a job. If we really want jail to rehabilitate people then we need to give them options when they get out.”


Wings Homeless Advocacy is excited to launch this vital document service for inmates at the Santa Cruz County Jail, and we are committed to making a difference in the lives of those who need it most. By providing essential support to inmates before they are released, we can help them avoid homelessness and build a more stable future. Please join us in supporting this critical initiative by donating or volunteering today.

If you are interested in volunteering or making a donation, please visit our website at www.wingsadvocacy.org/get-involved or contact us at info at wings advocacy dot org.


Together, we can make a positive impact on the lives of those reentering society and help prevent homelessness in our community.

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