UA School of Law gets $100k from federal program

By Dylan Reynolds

After receiving a $100,000 grant, The University of Akron School of Law is partnering with the Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority (AMHA) to help youths with criminal records find jobs and affordable housing.

The grant comes from the federal Juvenile Reentry Assistance Program, which is itself a collaboration between the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Justice. This program is distributing $1.75 million in grants to 18 public housing agencies that are partnered with nonprofit legal service agencies. Akron was awarded one of those 18 grants.

The School of Law and AMHA plan to use the money to help formerly-convicted youth find employment and affordable housing.

According to an online pamphlet published by HUD, the grant will let UA target youth with legal services tailored to the issues they face from their convictions: specifically, “juvenile and adult sealings, Certificates of Qualification for Employment (CQEs), child support modifications and driver’s license reinstatements.”

These services are especially important in Ohio, where one in six residents has a criminal record. In addition to the obvious consequences of crime, like fines and imprisonment, there are many less-than-obvious “collateral consequences” that affect offenders for years after they have paid their debt to society.  In fact, the HUD pamphlet says there are more than 800 collateral consequences written into Ohio Law. It identifies “the inability to find employment, obtain a professional license, pursue higher education or find housing” as a few notable examples.

Matthew Wilson, dean of UA’s School of Law, was enthusiastic to receive the grant. “Akron Law is excited to be only one of four law schools in the country to receive federal funding for this important program,” he noted.  

“This grant will enable Akron Law’s Reentry Clinic and related programs to continue to grow and facilitate second chances for many individuals, families and local communities,” Wilson said. “It will also provide Akron law students with practical legal training and a greater understanding of the important role that law plays in society.”