By: Greg Stapleton
From 1968 to 1980, there was only one Black/African-American person Albany County Legislator. Homer L. Perkins represented the Arbor Hill community and championed alternatives-to-incarceration and other social programs that brought equality to the city and county.
This vision was ground-breaking and helped shape Arbor Hill and the entire city at a time when incarceration was the leading solution. Eventually Perkins’s name and ideas caught hold with the creation of the Homer Perkins Center on Second Street in Arbor Hill.
Trinity Alliance’s Homer Perkins Center honors the ideal of Perkins as an alternative-to-incarceration program. This three to six month 20-bed, residential men’s program provides recovery, community and family supports, so participants can transition back into society.
“Our main goal is to provide various socialization and self-help skills to our residents that are needed for success,” Joyce Williams, the Director of the Homer Perkins Center said. “Positive life skills, attending self-help meetings and having recovery support, all play a vital role in our residents’ success.”
The Homer Perkins Center is part of the New York State Office of Addiction Services and Support Men’s Reintegration Program. All attendees must be enrolled in an OASAS out-patient program to be admitted to the Homer Perkins Center.
Homer Perkins residents are referred from various agencies, such as the Albany County Probation Office, drug court, parole, Conifer Park and other in-patient/out-patient substance abuse programs.
“The healing of our members is part of the larger continuum of care,” Williams said. “Our program is truly the final step to help get these residents the help and support they need.”
A typical day at Homer Perkins is very structured. The residents wake up early in the morning and start by cleaning their room and helping with the preparation of breakfast. From there, they attend out-patient treatment, doctor appointments, AA/NA meetings, church and other support style meetings. They even have financial literacy classes, led by KeyBank and healthy living classes, led by the program nurse and a fitness/yoga instructor.
“After 90 days in the program, residents can start seeking employment,” Williams said. “Upon graduating from the Homer Perkins Center, our residents leave with housing and employment in place.”
Usually, this means tapping into groups like Second Chance Opportunities, Trinity Supportive Housing and other safe and sober housing in the community. In this way, the success of each Homer Perkins resident is directly tied to the support of the whole Albany community.
“Helping these residents succeed helps the whole of the Albany community,” Williams said. “By the time they graduate and take a job, they are adding to the workforce and talent pool. This helps Albany thrive as a city.”
In the end, Trinity’s Homer Perkins Center honors the man for whom it is named, by changing Arbor Hill and the entire city of Albany each day. The residents are given the tools and support they need to enter society ready to make a difference and up-hold the ideals they are taught each day.
If you know someone who is eligible for services through the Homer Perkins Center, please email Joyce Williams at [email protected]. If you would like to make a donation to support the work of Trinity and the Homer Perkins Center, please email Addy Waldie at [email protected].