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Assessing Housing Barriers. Donna Harrison Community Placement Coordinator Virginia Department of Corrections Welcome Home: Addressing Today’s Challenges in Homeless Services June 2, 2009. Community Release Unit. *Types of Releases *About 14,000 offenders were released last year (2008).

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Assessing housing barriers

Assessing Housing Barriers

Donna Harrison

Community Placement Coordinator

Virginia Department of Corrections

Welcome Home: Addressing Today’s Challenges in Homeless Services

June 2, 2009


Community release unit
Community Release Unit

*Types of Releases

*About 14,000 offenders were released last year (2008).

*Growing number of GTRD/no parole law cases being released

*Increased need for specialized caseloads

*Increase in number of homeless offenders being released


Who are the homeless ex offenders
Who are the homeless ex-offenders?

  • Females/males

  • Young adults/elderly

  • Healthy/physically disabled

  • Substance Abusers

  • Mentally ill

  • Developmentally Disabled

  • Non-violent/violent

  • Sex offenders


Why are ex offenders homeless
Why are ex-offenders homeless?

  • No family support

  • Financial burden for family

  • Lack of housing for ex-offenders directly from incarceration

  • Lack of alternative housing for violent/sex offenders


Why are ex offenders homeless1
Why are ex-offenders homeless?

  • Limited financial resources to help pay for cost of housing

  • Offenders do not qualify for many housing assistance programs or low income housing

  • Limited housing resources for medically and/or mentally disabled offenders


Additional barriers for medically and or mentally disabled offenders
Additional Barriers for medically and/or mentally disabled offenders

  • Decrease in assisted living facilities

  • Shrinking number of Medicaid/AG beds in assisted living facilities

  • Nursing homes moving towards rehab care and private pay

  • Criminal history


With supportive transitional housing
With supportive transitional housing….. offenders

  • Communities are safer

  • Decrease in recidivism

  • Better coordination of medical and/or mental health care

  • Decrease in use of emergency services-hospital/ER visits


What is doc doing
What is DOC doing? offenders

  • Education/vocational training

  • Treatment programs

  • Special transition housing units

  • Transition planning programs

  • Developing programs that focus on reintegrating families


What is doc doing1
What is DOC doing? offenders

  • Separated units in DOC facilities based on special needs populations

  • Agreements with other state agencies to apply for identity documents and state and federal benefits pre-release

  • Jail re-entry programs

  • Specialized caseloads in CRU


Successes positives
Successes/Positives offenders

  • Serve as mentors or leaders in re-entry and transitional housing programs, and substance abuse treatment programs

  • Network with employers

  • Utilize job skills

  • Apply education

    Give back to the community by being successful, active citizens and maintaining a healthy lifestyle


Community collaboration
Community Collaboration offenders

*Shelter Plus program

*Partnering with DSS, CSB, shelters, and private mental health providers

*Private housing providers partnerships with Probation & Parole Districts


Things to consider
Things to Consider offenders

  • Is the community safer if ex-offenders are excluded from housing services?

  • Can there be a pre-screening system created that will consider ex-offenders on a case-by-case basis?

  • Can there be a hotel/motel option?

  • Is it possible to establish more transitional housing programs for violent and non-violent offenders that are an extension of the shelter program?

  • Can there be replication of successful models of collaboration between DSS, CSB, Health departments, and P&P Districts?


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