Lives to Rebuild Communities
Mike Tandy, President and CEO, Restoration Enterprises,
Conventional wisdom sees criminals as a destructive
element representing a financial burden to society through loss and the
cost of administering justice. A bold new model based on Restorative Justice
challenges this wisdom and instead represents an opportunity to rebuild
communities. "Restorative justice is a systematic response to wrongdoing
that emphasizes healing the wounds of victims, offenders and communities
caused or revealed by the criminal behaviour." It involves the collaboration
of the public and private sectors to improve the safety and well being
of the community.
For Shasta County, California, a picturesque locale
situated almost on the Oregon border, the concept of restorative justice
was pursued in response to the serious overcrowding in the county's main
jail facility and as a means of lowering the rate of recidivism among
offenders. With a primary focus on reducing recidivism, community partnerships
were formed to apply the best services and resources available to address
the "barriers" in the lives of minimum level offenders as a
practical alternative to jail time. Instead of handing out incarceration,
this approach offered a "hand-up", allowing offenders to make
a personal investment in their lives. A seamless integrated plan with
accountability and consequences provides a person who is serious about
changing his life an opportunity to get substantial assistance while making
restitution to the community. Restoration Enterprises (www.restoringshasta.org),
created in 1998 as a nonprofit public benefit corporation to assist the
county in realizing its new objective, is the private sector partner in
The "barriers" that Restoration Enterprises
must address are not just associated with the minimum level offenders,
but apply to "at risk" individuals (low-income, underemployed,
welfare-to-work, etc.) as well. These barriers or missing elements include
housing, transportation, jobs, training, substance abuse, literacy, education,
life skill development and others. Restoration Enterprises' role is to
act as a bridge in forming community partnerships between law enforcement,
public agencies, community and faith-based service providers to help create
a safer and more involved community. Our mission is to provide people
and organizations the opportunity and services they need to realize their
God-given potential as contributing members of the community.
One of the unique programs developed in pursuit of
this mission is our auto loan fund. According to the California Department
of Social Services, CalWORKS, the number one barrier to employment for
the welfare-to-work client is transportation. With bus systems that do
not cover distant locations or odd work hours, many CalWORKS clients face
a growing risk of losing their employment. In some cases, accepting a
new position of employment or a promotion to another branch operation
is impossible because of transportation barriers. As most rural communities
do not enjoy the mass transit systems common to urban cities, the transportation
issues surrounding child and day care for the working parent are substantial.
Restoration Enterprises created a demonstration pilot
project that uniquely addresses the problem of transportation and other
client dynamics. Two separate grants from CalWORKS in Shasta county allowed
us to establish a revolving loan fund and to support administration of
the project. Our analysis revealed that none of our clients would not
meet conventional financing because of blemished credit histories. Home
budgeting and management skill training were non-existent. Personal and
family financial resources were exhausted and not otherwise available.
Working closely with CalWORKS, a client eligibility screening and referral
mechanism was developed and the automobile loan project was launched.
However, the program is less about cars than it is about jobs.
Borrowers must be CalWORKS clients who have exhausted
every other option to acquire reliable transportation. If they demonstrate
a need to acquire reliable transportation in order to accept a job, stay
employed or improve employment, they are referred to Restoration Enterprises
by CalWORKS to complete a loan application. We look at their credit history,
including bill payment track record, verify their sources of income, and
review other pertinent information--loan clients are not declined because
of poor credit history alone. Applicants that meet approval standards
must complete our home budgeting course, which requires that they create
their own personal budget and in some cases affirm certain creditor obligations.
Approved loan applicants are offered a free pre-purchase vehicle inspection
at our auto repair facilities1.
Now two years old, the loan fund has had positive
results and the loan performance has been very successful. Close communication
and frequent follow up to reaffirm good performance is a regular part
of our staff's daily schedule and one of the key factors in the program's
success. Compensation for risk is offset against the loan pool, using
accrued interest for any vehicle collection expenses or chargeoffs. CalWORKS
of Shasta County has notified us that they are going to more than double
our loan fund in the next two months. We would also like to establish
a parallel fund to serve non-CalWORKS clients in Shasta County. And there
is room to do more.
With ever-tightening state and local budgets, low-income
families with these same employment barriers will fall through the cracks
in our cities and counties. We are dedicated to expanding this proven
transportation template to meet that challenge and have developed an expansion
plan to grow this program into other rural counties with even greater
transportation barriers to employment: eastern Shasta, Tehama, Trinity,
Siskiyou, Modoc, Lassen and Humboldt counties. With enough resources,
expansion into larger metropolitan areas, such as Sacramento and beyond,
is also quite feasible.
Creating productive tax paying citizens is smart.
It enhances community safety, promotes well being and eventually creates
bankable clients and homeowners. CalWORKS has made a significant investment
in partnering with us to develop this program, but this is only a beginning.
The investment to create a multi-bank loan pool would greatly enable us
to expand our expertise in restoring lives to rebuild communities. We
encourage inquiries from banks that want to learn more about our program
and are interested in a simple but unique opportunity to invest in low-income
To inquire, contact Mike Tandy at 530/245-0500 or
R. Tandy has spent over 30 years in banking and economic development,
culminating with the co-founding of Country National Bank in Redding,
California, in 1982, where he served as the executive VP and senior loan
administrator. During his banking career, Mike became a specialist in
SBA lending, covering ten northern counties of California. He was eventually
recruited as a bank VP responsible for SBA lending for the state of Nevada.
His background includes serving as general manager
of a NASCAR Winston Cup racing team, which attained NASCAR's Rookie of
the year. Currently, he serves as president and CEO of Restoration Enterprises,
Inc., a nonprofit community organization. Mike is also an ordained minister
and pastor. He is a volunteer chaplain at California's High Desert State
Prison and chaplain at Shasta Speedway racetrack.