I-Team: Shortage of transitional housing for released inmates

LAS VEGAS - There's a shortage of transitional homes for inmates who are leaving prison. Now, one of those homes could be shut down by the state.

In May, Cassandra Hein shared her story with the I-Team about the struggles she faces to keep a halfway house open for women -- released from prison -- who are trying to stay on the right track.

The day after the story aired, residents were notified they may have to move out. Now, only two of six women remain living there. 

The women are doing their best to keep from returning to prison. It's the common goal at the After Orange halfway home which Hein opened late last year.

"My sister is incarcerated so I don't see it as like this population that is untouchable," said Cassandra Hein, After Orange founder.

Hein said she was struggling to get the home licensed with the state because of costs and bureaucracy and after that story aired in May.

"We were told that we needed to have everybody leave the home," said Danielle Shapiro, house manager. "It's empty."

Hein's pleas for help backfired.

"I was extremely surprised," Shapiro said. "I was shocked."

Shapiro is trying to stay clean and sober after serving time in jail and she's become the house manager. She says she and Hein are struggling to pay the bills while most of the beds are empty.

Here's how Hein describes it:

The Department of Health and Human Services says she needs a license to operate the house as a transitional home.

Parole and Probation isn't sending women there until that happens. The home needs to meet building and fire codes. For example, it will need a fire sprinkler system which could cost from $20,000 to $30,000.

Shapiro's working two jobs and Hein runs another business. The women who had been living in the house were also contributing, in part, Hein says, with rent vouchers that newly released inmates get from the state.

"I don't know if Cassandra and I can do it anymore," Shapiro said. "It costs a lot of money to keep this house going so we're at a loss right now. We're just doing the best that we can."

The Department of Corrections told the I-Team last month that nearly 400 inmates were ready for release but still locked up.

The cost to Nevada taxpayers is around $23,000 a day. Part of the problem is that there's no place for some of them to go.

But while Hein and Shapiro work with several state offices to figure out how to stay open, they are concerned they will have to close the home soon.

"We just need a little support right now," Shapiro said.

The state fire marshal tells the I-Team that there is an effort to work with After Orange to try to streamline the process as Cassandra Hein tries to get a license for a transitional home.

Friday, Hein's sister who's been serving time in prison for second degree murder for more than a decade is scheduled to be released.


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