After decades in prison, New York woman helps formerly incarcerated find housing

Local News

NEW YORK — One woman turned her painful past into purpose, transforming two buildings in Brooklyn and Queens into temporary housing for people trying to change their lives after prison.

Donna Hylton said that after 27 years in prison, she was at a crossroads.  She made the decision to rebuild her life and build a safe place for formerly incarcerated people to stay and get back on their feet.

“I was a little girl being abused, traumatized and nobody was helping,” said Hylton.  

Hylton is from Jamaica grew up in the Bronx. She spent 27 years at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility and Rikers Island. She’s now an author and founder of a nonprofit organization A Little Piece of Light. She’s helped hundreds of New York City women and gender-fluid individuals find support and housing after jail.

Hylton said her personal story of trauma and abuse has given her a unique and useful perspective to help.  

Joanne Jones, who spent 21 years behind bars, just got out five months ago and lives in one of the homes Hylton built.

Devante Perez, 30, lives in one of the safe homes.  Perez said it was a struggle to find acceptance and resources after her time behind bars.

“I came out and had to leave home and start over and fresh and that created bad choices,” Perez said.

Perez said she now meditates everyday and is following her passion of being an artist and wanting to help others.

Hylton plans on opening more of these safe houses in NYC. If you want more information, click here.

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