Name: Annys Darkwa
What she does: Changes the landscape of reintegration for ex-offenders by building links with private sector landlords
Impact: Vision Housing has housed 372 people since 2007, and their re-offending rate is under 15 percent, compared to a national rate of over 55 percent
Nominated by: Servene Mouazan, CEO of Ogunte
The New Idea
Annys Darkwa’s key insight is that if you leave prison with nowhere to go on your first day, you are likely to reoffend.
Stuck with a choice between unstable hostel housing, social housing waiting lists or going back to their former networks, offenders have low chances of successfully reintegrating into society. Annys believes that prisoners need to be housed on the day of release in high quality accommodation. Only by gaining this basic stability can ex-offenders see the possibility of change in their own lives. Faced with the threat of homelessness, many ex-offenders fail to make it to first base.
Annys has identified a huge untapped resource for ex-offenders by building bridges with the private rental sector. A counterintuitive solution for both parties, she is demonstrating that is it not only possible to engage private landlords in providing accommodation to ex-offenders, but it is an attractive business opportunity for them. Annys’ organisation Vision Housing has an extensive network of private landlords who they can access at short notice in order to house people who are referred to them from a variety of sources. Vision Housing has developed a system for cutting through the bureaucracy prisoners face to give them access to the relevant financial support on the first day, which gives the private landlords the security of a month’s rent in advance. By working with Vision Housing, landlords have access to a reliable flow of tenants to fill their properties.
By bringing together prisoners and private landlords, Annys is demonstrating that the support of people coming out of prisons does not purely need to be a state burden, and that given the right circumstances many ex-offenders are willing and able turn their lives around. Vision Housing has housed 372 people since 2007, and their re-offending rate is under 15 percent, compared to a national rate of over 55 percent.