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National Best Practices for Local Reentry Councils HOUSING. CAROLINA JUSTICE POLICY CENTER Community Services Conference Chapel Hill, NC - May 16, 2014 Dennis Schrantz Center for Justice Innovation Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency www.miccd.org. Housing Best Practices. GOAL
CAROLINA JUSTICE POLICY CENTER
Community Services Conference
Chapel Hill, NC - May 16, 2014
Center for Justice Innovation
Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency
To facilitate access to stable housing upon re-entry into the community so that no returning citizen is released to homelessness
Report of the ReEntry Policy Council
Housing – Pages 256-281
Research on the best practices for housing options for returning prisoners is still in its infancy but the literature identifies several promising approaches*:
*Lake, 1993; HUD, 1997; LaVigneet al., 2003; Visher et al., 2004; Roman and Travis, 2004
For 10% to 20% of returning prisoners, living with their family is not an option due family conflict, limited resources, legal restrictions, and/or history of violent or sexual misconduct.*
49% to 62% of returning citizens stay with family member or friends upon release and for about two months.
This can be encouraged by working with family members while the returning citizen is still in prison to plan for this eventually and the conditions that could make it work:
Renting or purchasing is an option, but few returning prisoners have adequate resources to do so*. Many urban areas are witnessing increasingly tight rental markets, with a severely limited number of units available for low-income households, particularly in neighborhoods accessible by public transportation**
A similar problem exists in rural areas where the distance to employment and other services is often greater and the public transportation options are fewer.
Landlords may view all individuals with criminal records as a threat to safety without considering individual circumstances. Criminal background checks are allowed by most states and are standard practice by many landlords.
Sex offenders are subject to legal restrictions that limit where they can live. Sex offender registries are easily accessible to landlords, who are often fearful of renting to sex offenders regardless of individual circumstances.
*A 2004 study by the National Low-Income Housing Coalition reported that, on average, a full-time worker needed to earn $15.37 per hour ($31,970 annually) in order to afford the rent for a modest two-bedroom home while paying no more than 30 percent of income for housing. Based on this estimate, those working for minimum wage must work at least 80 hours per week to afford the same apartment.
**National Low-Income Housing Coalition 2004; Obrinsky and Meron 2002.
Many community-based reentry sites are providing rental assistance designed to help parolees—who do not yet have an income—access housing in the private market such as using federal, state or local funding to help pay rent on a time-limited basis for parolees who are in need of housing, are at high or moderately high risk to re-offend, and are ineligible for other existing resources.
For many returning prisoners, neither familial nor private-market options are realistic. Without a family willing to take them in or the money available for rent, many turn to federally subsidized housing programs as a viable option before homelessness.*
Public housing waiting lists for individuals and families are typically long, with families with children getting first consideration.**
Compounding the issues of availability is eligibility, both for public housing and for vouchers. From a financial perspective, many PHAs ask for proof of income to be eligible for Section 8 housing vouchers, a task difficult for those just leaving prison.
Federally subsidized options include public housing and the Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP). Nationally, there are approximately 1.3 million households living in public housing units, owned, managed, and operated by 3,300 Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) (see: http://www.hud.gov/renting/phprog.cfm).
According to the National Low-Income Housing Coalition, between 1996 and 1998, a family’s average time on a waiting list for public housing rose from 22 months to 33 months, a 50 percent increase. In some large cities, the waiting period is substantially longer.
But there are exceptions – and sometimes the only choice is to work through the process. Having a positive working relationship with the state housing authority – usually developed at the state level by state leaders – makes this more fruitful:
Community corrections centers, also known as halfway houses or community re-entry centers, provide a “halfway” step between prison and independent living. These facilities are overseen by either corrections or community corrections agencies
Eligibility varies by state and offense, some inmates are eligible for release into a transitional program for the last 90 to 120 days of their sentence, to serve several purposes.
Combining housing services with additional support services has shown success in helping returning prisoners with very few resources achieve success using two basic models, service-enhanced transitional housing and supportive housing.
Supportive or service-enhanced housing programs offer a range of services in addition to housing:*
*Service may include: family counseling, case management, medical services, substance abuse counseling, social skills development, anger management, vocational training, and/or assistance with obtaining vital documents such as Social Security cards and birth certificates. Some jurisdictions have used these programs specifically to target returning prisoners or ex-offenders but the majority serve these populations simply because they are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless (Roman et al., 2006).
**For instance, research has shown that the general impact of Section 8 occupancy and supportive housing appears to positively impact property values (Galster et al., 1999). In addition, research shows that if negative impacts do occur, it is most likely because these facilities are forced into already troubled areas, providing more potential victims to criminals already active in the area (Goetz et al., 1996; Galster et al., 2002).
Some community reentry sites have built successful relationships with existing supportive-housing providers.
In some communities where the traditional approach to supportive housing is not currently an option, sites are combining supportive services with other housing options, such as private-market options.
Bradley, K.H., N.C. Richardson, R.B.M. Oliver, and E.M. Slayter. (2001). No Place Like Home: Housing and the Ex-Prisoner. Boston, MA: Community Resources for Justice.
Gilbert, P. (May 2004). Guide for Developing Housing for Ex-Offenders. US Dept of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Community Capacity Development Office. NCJ 203374.
Kirk, T.A. (April 2007). Supportive Housing, Better Care, Batter Value. Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. http://www.ct.gov/dmhas/site/default.asp
Petersilia, J. 2000. “Prisoners Returning to Communities: Political, Economic, and Social Consequences.” In Sentencing and Corrections: Issues for the 21st Century. National Institute of Justice: Papers from the Executive Sessions on Sentencing and Corrections. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, May.
Petersilia, J. 2003. When Prisoners Come Home: Parole and Prisoner Reentry. Oxford, UK: Ox-ford University Press.
Taxman, F. S., Young, D., Byrne, J. M., Holsinger, A., & Anspach, D. (October 2002).
From Prison Safety to Public Safety: Innovations in Offender Reentry. Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice.
Travis, J., A. Solomon, & M. Waul. (June 2001). From Prison to Home: The Dimensions and Consequences of Prisoner Reentry. Washington, DC: The Urban Institute, Justice