In response to the coronavirus pandemic, financial support from the Judge Alfred L. Luongo Fund was released to participants in court programs dedicated to supporting individuals in reentry.
At the request of the STAR Reentry Court Team, the Philadelphia Bar Foundation, through the Luongo Fund, purchased and distributed $100 Visa gift cards for necessities such as groceries, toiletries, and other essential items. The Luongo Fund typically supports on-demand requests for financial support for specific needs such as driver license renewal fees or utility bills. The proactive release of these funds in response to the economic disruption caused by the pandemic was a departure designed to ensure that funds were immediately accessible to program participants.
"All of the participants were so grateful to have this resource. We've heard from a few people that it came at the perfect time – some needed special meals for Passover and Ramadan. Some have recently been laid off and were struggling. Many of the folks who are working are providing for their families, and money is tight. Many others have not received stimulus checks or their tax returns (for various reasons). It really made a difference." said Cyndi Zuidema, Reentry Coordinator at the United States Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
The Judge Alfred L. Luongo Fund supports the Supervision to Aid Reentry (STAR) Program of the Reentry Court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Reentry Court is a collaboration between the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals, U.S. Probation Office, U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Federal Public Defender’s Office, and various community partners in Philadelphia. Founded in 2015, the Luongo Fund assists those in reentry with emergency expenses, including assistance with education, employment, housing, health care, and child care, and has attracted national attention.
This Fund also supports two specialized courts, the STRIDES program and Relapse Prevention Court. Both of these courts are critical to improving the chance of long-term success for individuals in reentry who experience mental health challenges and substance addictions.
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