House for formerly incarcerated women opens in North Omaha
OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A new home in North Omaha is now open for women who recently got out of jail or prison.
The “Q.U.E.E.N.S. Butterfly House was founded by Demetrius Gatson, who spent time behind bars herself.
She chokes back tears while talking about helping women rebuild their lives.
“It’s so touching because I know what it’s like. I know what it’s like to be released with no resources,” she said.
Gatson had help from her family. However, she knows other women are not so lucky. She says many women end up back in jail.
“They told me Dee-Dee, we don’t have places to live so we go back to what we know to try to provide for our kids and get them places. It doesn’t last long ‘cause then we come here,” Gatson said.
Now Gatson is using tough lessons learned to pay it forward. Q.U.E.E.N.S. Butterfly House is a fully furnished home for up to eight formerly incarcerated women. The house includes four brightly decorated bedrooms with messages of inspiration, a dining room, a living room, and a basement.
“When our community comes together to support individuals who were formerly incarcerated it helps their reentry,” Gatson said. “It just boosts their self-confidence and lets them know that they have a vested interest in where they live.”
Gatson before women are accepted into the home, they must show the will to change and stay clean. Forty hours of community service is required before moving in. Tenants will pay rent that’s equal to 30% of their income. Also, they must follow house rules, including curfew.
Tessa Domingus who was also incarcerated, says this kind of peer support is crucial.
“We as women need to see that other women can turn their life around and do things like this for themselves because they give us hope that we can do that too,” she said.
Gatson has made this sentiment her life’s work.
“Women deserve the best and they need to know that they are worthy,” she said.
Q.U.E.E.N.S. Butterfly House is a member of The Sisterhood Alliance for Freedom and Equality (SAFE) Housing Network.
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