Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Housing for ex-cons: Spend a little, save a lot

Ron, 57, lives in a bachelor apartment on St. Clair Ave. W., found with help from the John Howard Society.

Ron, 57, lives in a bachelor apartment on St. Clair Ave. W., found with help from the John Howard Society.

Jim Rankin Staff Reporter

On the first seriously hot morning of a late spring, Ron gave his walk-up bachelor apartment on St. Clair Avenue West a serious sweep, despite the heat and fact that he otherwise keeps it immaculate.

“It’s already 30 degrees,” said Ron, 57, mopping his forehead with a cloth. “I need a fan, I think.”

But it is home — and has been since December, when the John Howard Society helped find him the place. Other than the fan, it has what he needs: A small kitchen, TV and pullout bed. He’s added a few personal touches, like mirrored lettering on the wall that says, “Live, Love, Laugh.”

“I feel good about myself,” said Ron.

Since the age of 17, Ron, a recovering heroin addict, estimates he has been in and out of jail about 40 times, spending a total of 20 years incarcerated. The longest stint was 21/2 years in a federal penitentiary for a string of drug-fuelled break-and-enters.

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