Jun 1, 2010

New Resource on Expanding Housing Options for People Leaving Prison or Jail


Successful prisoner reentry often hinges on individuals finding stable housing that can help them break the cycle of reincarceration. The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center released a new publication today, Reentry Housing Options: The Policymakers' Guide, which provides practical steps that lawmakers and others can take to increase public safety through better access to affordable housing for individuals released to the community.

“Some people wonder why, when housing shortages are so acute, we are focusing on finding suitable housing for people leaving prison and jail. All you need to do is look at recidivism rates among these individuals who lack housing to know that it is a public safety issue—for both supervising them in the community at fixed addresses and for helping them avoid future criminal activity,” said New York State Assemblyman and CSG Justice Center Chair Jeffrion Aubry. “And it is simply the right thing to do so these individuals can be law-abiding, contributing members of families and communities.”

Reentry Housing Options is the result of a project supported by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, U.S. Department of Justice. The guide provides an overview of several commonly accessed housing options, including the benefits and limitations of six of these options:

Private-market rentals
Public housing
Affordable housing
Halfway houses
Supportive housing
Specialized reentry housing

It also examines three distinct approaches to increasing the availability of these housing options: improving access, increasing housing stock and revitalizing neighborhoods. Examples are also provided of how each approach has been put into action by particular programs:

Housing Authority of the County of Salt Lake (Utah)
St. Leonard's Ministries (Chicago, Ill.)
New Communities Initiative (Wichita, Kan.)

“Many landlords and housing authorities will not rent to people with criminal histories, but some promising reentry housing options can help overcome these obstacles,” said Carol Wilkins, who chairs the National Reentry Resource Center's committee on housing. “This guide helps community leaders understand what resources are available for these individuals and what the benefits are—to families, to corrections budgets and to public safety—when efforts are made to expand affordable housing options that are within their reach.”