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A Place to Call Home
A Vision for Safe, Supportive
and Affordable Housing

for People with Justice System Involvement

© 2017 Prisoner Reentry Institute
John Jay College of Criminal Justice
City University of New York
524 West 59th Street, Suite 609BMW
New York, NY 10019
Suggested Citation:
Prisoner Reentry Institute at John Jay College of Criminal Justice,
The Fortune Society, Corporation for Supportive Housing,
& The Supportive Housing Network of New York. (2017).
A place to call home: a vision for safe, supportive and affordable housing for people
with justice system involvement.
Cover photo credit: Phoebe Jones |

A Place to Call Home
A Vision for Safe, Supportive
and Affordable Housing

for People with Justice System Involvement

About The Prisoner Reentry Institute
The Prisoner Reentry Institute (PRI) at John Jay College of Criminal Justice focuses on learning what it
takes for people to live successfully in their communities after contact with the criminal justice system, and on
increasing the effectiveness of the professionals and systems working with them. This goal is pursued through
several initiatives, including programs that increase access to higher education in jail and prison and post-release,
student fellowships combining academic learning and reentry field placements, administration of the NYC
Justice Corps programs, and policy initiatives focusing especially on housing for people with criminal records.
Visit us at

About The Fortune Society
The Fortune Society’s mission is to support successful reentry from incarceration and promote alternatives to
incarceration, thus strengthening the fabric of our communities. Founded in 1967, Fortune’s vision is to foster
a world where all who are incarcerated or formerly incarcerated can thrive as positive, contributing members
of society.To address the complex needs of our clients, Fortune employs a holistic model of innovative services
and advocacy, offering comprehensive services to nearly 7,000 justice-involved people each year via three
primary New York City locations: our service center in Long Island City, our housing model the Fortune
Academy (“the Castle”), and Castle Gardens. Learn more about our work at

About the Supportive Housing Network of New York
The Supportive Housing Network of New York is a membership organization representing 200 nonprofit
organizations that have collectively created more than 50,000 units of supportive housing across New York
State. Our membership also includes more than 150 affiliate agency and corporate members.The Network is
the largest member organization of its kind in the U.S., and the leading national voice for supportive housing.
Founded in 1988, the Network’s mission is to increase the public’s understanding of supportive housing; share
best practices that continually improve supportive housing’s effectiveness; and, most importantly, encourage
the creation of enough supportive housing to end homelessness among the most vulnerable New Yorkers.
The Network works toward these goals through advocacy, training, technical assistance, public education,
research, and policy analysis. For more information about supportive housing and the Network visit us at

About the Corporation for Supportive Housing
Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH) has been the leader in supportive housing for 25 years,
demonstrating its potential to improve the lives of very vulnerable individuals and families. CSH has earned
a reputation as a highly effective, financially stable organization, with strong partnerships across government,
community organizations, foundations, and financial institutions. CSH is advancing innovative solutions
that use housing as a platform for services to improve lives, maximize public resources, and build healthy
communities. We are working to assure that housing solutions are accessible to more people in more places.
Visit us at




Who Needs Housing?


What Barriers Do They Face?


Improving Access to Housing for Justice-Involved People Benefits Everyone


Reducing Barriers to Housing for People with Justice Involvement


Increasing Housing Options for People with Criminal Records






Everyone should have a safe, stable place to live—not just access to shelter, but to a place to call home. Housing is
a fundamental human need that lays the foundation for success in every aspect of our lives.When we have a home,
we have a safe space to lay our head at night, store our personal belongings, a kitchen where we can cook our meals,
and a launch pad from which we can seek jobs, attend school, and connect with our friends and family. Having a
place to call home defines our place in the world, our sense of belonging, and our relatedness to others.
People with past involvement in the justice system need housing in
order to reconstruct their lives. In many cases, they were previously
experiencing homelessness or are unable to return to the place
they lived before. As they look for a home, however, they find the
doors to housing closed at every turn. Too often, they are denied
this basic need because of their criminal justice history. They face
discrimination in the private housing market, scarcity of subsidized
housing, lack of affordable places to live, and bans from public
housing, all of which puts a stable place to call home out of reach.

Increasing access to
safe, affordable and
supportive housing for
people with criminal
justice histories

The result? The system relegates people with criminal justice
involvement to the streets, to shelters, and to unregulated substandard
housing—options that don’t provide the support necessary for them
to achieve their potential. Shelters are often overcrowded and unsafe.
They are temporary, causing the stress that comes from living a
transient life. People living in such places often have no refrigerator
where they can store fresh food. They can’t hang their clothes in
closets in preparation for job interviews or work.They have no secure space to keep their valuables, photographs,
or family keepsakes.They have no permanent address for job or school applications. Rather than providing the basis
for success, these types of shelter more often lead to a cycle of homelessness and repeated jail or prison stays.

furthers our shared
American values.

On October 27, 2016, stakeholders from the public and nonprofit sectors gathered at John Jay College of
Criminal Justice for Excluded: A Dialogue on Safe, Supportive and Affordable Housing for People with Justice System
Involvement, co-hosted by the Prisoner Reentry Institute of John Jay College, The Fortune Society, the
Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH), and the Supportive Housing Network of New York. It was a day
of conversation about the importance of housing to successful reentry for people who have been involved in the
criminal justice system. It was a day to talk about shared values and second chances, and to outline the obstacles
preventing people from finding housing. It was a day to focus on model solutions that have been proven to work
so that everyone, no matter what their needs, has access to a place to call home.
Increasing access to safe, affordable and supportive housing for people with criminal justice histories furthers
the shared values that Americans have held dear since the founding of this country. As a nation, we share a
desire for a just society with opportunity for all. We believe that everyone deserves a fair chance to achieve
their potential.We believe in redemption, the idea that people should be given the chance for a new start after
they falter, and merit patience and compassion as they do so.We believe that individuals can change, given the
opportunity to start over in society after making amends. We believe in community—that we are better off
when everyone can contribute and participate. Housing builds such opportunity and, where there is more
opportunity, life improves for all of us.
This document makes the case for providing dignified housing that meets the needs of those with criminal
justice histories, and providing it as quickly as possible upon reentry.
A Place to Call Home



A Place to Call Home

Who Needs Housing?
Since the 1980s, America has seen an explosion in the use of its criminal justice system, stemming from “tough
on crime” policies, the war on drugs, and the rise in mass incarceration. At the end of 2010, federal and state
prisons held over 1.6 million individuals,1 and nearly 4.9 million people were on parole or probation.2 One
in three Americans will be arrested by the age of 23.3
People with criminal justice histories will need a place to live, whether they are being released from prison or
jail, under community supervision, or simply have criminal records to disclose to potential landlords. Indeed,
the vast majority of those who are incarcerated will eventually be released.4 Every year, approximately nine
million people leave our country’s jails.5 During 2010, another 708,677 people were released from state and
federal prisons.6

People in need of housing present a wide spectrum of needs that no one-size-fits-all policy can hope to
address. Many simply need access to habitable housing that they can afford – housing that is clean, safe,
meets housing codes, and is not overcrowded. Others might need only temporary assistance to get back
on their feet as they find work to support themselves. Still others may have higher needs. They include the
aging—the fastest growing segment in reentry—who need support navigating an unfamiliar world and, often,

A Place to Call Home


medical care.7 They include women, who might need assistance reunifying with their children and developing
parenting skills. They include people with substance abuse disorders and mental illness, who need access to
behavioral health resources.8 And many have struggled in the past with homelessness and housing instability.9
This, then, is a population with varied needs.Yet for all the challenges facing people with a history of criminal
justice involvement, most remain crime-free.10 The majority of those on parole or probation who do return
to jail or prison do so because of technical violations of the terms of their community supervision—things
like a missed appointment, a failed drug test, or even changing addresses without permission—not for a new
crime.11 These technical violations are often a consequence of housing instability that makes it difficult to
locate treatment services, meet with probation officers, or receive court notices.12

In the Words of Carl Dukes:
“I served 31 years in prison. After being denied parole two times, I was finally granted
release the third time in January of 2008. For the first several weeks after my release,
I was homeless—forced to carry my heavy bag between three different shelters, despite
having recently undergone spinal surgery. Luckily, I was referred to the Fortune
Academy by some people who were living there, and I was accepted as a resident.
I got the privilege of moving
into Castle Gardens, Fortune’s
housing community. I have a
beautiful apartment there and
have built close relationships with
my neighbors. I’m also working
part-time at The Fortune Society
as a Correspondence Liaison.
Castle Gardens gives me a chance
to focus on what I need to do to
build a successful future. After
being in prison for 31 years, it
has been a challenge to get back
on my feet and rebuild my life.
Having a safe place to readjust to
life in the community and living
in a supportive environment
gives me that opportunity.”


A Place to Call Home

What Barriers Do They Face?
Housing can provide a springboard for success—a place of stability from which jobs, education, vocational
training, mental and physical health services, substance abuse treatment, and community supervision can
follow. So where can those who have criminal histories go to find a place to call home?
Too often, they face barriers to permanent, affordable housing. The private housing market is too costly for
many. Even for those with the means to afford private housing, landlords often discriminate against applicants
with criminal records. Private housing typically requires credit checks, prior landlord references, and hefty
deposits, putting it out of reach for people with criminal justice histories, who may be without a job or
savings, have no credit history or bad credit, and who are facing stiff payments for criminal justice fines and
fees. In addition, some cities have crime-free rental housing ordinances that encourage private landlords to
deny housing to those with criminal records and their families.13

Housing can
provide a
for success—
a place of stability
from which
jobs, education,
vocational training,
mental and
physical health
services, substance
abuse treatment,
and community
can follow.
A Place to Call Home


The dangers of substandard housing
People with criminal justice histories and limited incomes find themselves relegated
to uninhabitable housing replete with dangers. One study conducted by the Prisoner
Reentry Institute at John Jay College of Criminal Justice on New York City’s unregulated
housing market highlighted the plight of residents there. The report found that over 90%
of the houses analyzed had building code complaints during the study period, including
illegal conversions, violations of certificates of occupancy, illegal SROs, blocked, locked,
or improper egress, illegal or defective gas hook ups, boilers, piping, or wiring, or other
failures of maintenance. These violations create unsafe fire hazards. According to the
report, “House operators typically place two to four bunk beds in a single room, and in
some cases, bunk beds are placed in living rooms, hallways, and even kitchens. With
anywhere between four and eight people sharing a room and 30 or 40 in a house, conditions
can be dangerously overcrowded, compounding the potential for tragedy should a fire
ignite.” Such overcrowding also contributes to health risks. One tenant interviewed
remarked: “Health-wise, I don’t feel so safe because where I am at, there are eight of us
in a room, right? There’s no ventilation, and we are packed in like sardines, right on top
of each other. I feel that’s a health risk. If I get sick, everybody is going to get sick....
Medically, I feel kind of unsafe.”a
Prisoner Reentry Institute at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. (2014). Three quarter houses: the view from the


inside, 34. Retrieved from

People could turn instead to public housing, but it is not widely available and it is common for there to be
long waiting lists for apartments. And, there too, criminal justice histories often create barriers to accessing
housing. Federal law permanently excludes people with lifetime registered sex offense convictions and people
with convictions for producing methamphetamines in public housing.
But beyond this, federal and local housing authority policies may present obstacles to justice-involved
individuals. Many housing authorities have blanket exclusions for anyone with a criminal record, while
others require complex screenings for prospective tenants who have criminal records that, in practice, require
individuals to seek representation to help them navigate the process.
People leaving jails and prisons without a home to which they can return may not qualify for all housing for
homeless individuals. This is because some housing can only serve people who meet the HUD definition of
homeless and, under the current policy, people who have been incarcerated 90 days or longer do not qualify
as homeless. Those leaving prison who are most vulnerable—people with mental, physical, or other health
issues—may not qualify for supportive housing because many programs must base eligibility on the HUD
definition of homelessness, due to the programs’ funding. And there is a dearth of quality, transitional housing,


A Place to Call Home

which helps formerly incarcerated people get on their feet,
find stability, and, ultimately, move on to permanent housing
options. Formerly incarcerated people also face difficulty
finding jobs after release because of discrimination or lack
of training, which can lead to a cycle of poverty and income
instability that puts market-rate or even affordable housing
beyond reach.
Faced with these barriers, people with criminal justice
histories instead often end up on the streets, in shelters, and
in unregulated, uninhabitable housing.

Faced with these
barriers, people with
criminal justice histories
instead often end up on
the streets, in shelters,
and in unregulated,
uninhabitable housing.

A Place to Call Home


has shown that placing people in shelters is costlier than providing long-term
to their housing issues.

New England Journal of Medicine
that homeless people spend an average of

hospital visit
do non-homeless people.a D
A $
from Hawaii found that the rate of
hospitalization was over

times higher forIRUKRPHOHVV
than for a non-homeless cohort,
the state $3.5 million.b E
University of Texas
survey found that, on average, a homeless individual costs

year, mainly
for overnight jail stays as a result
specifically targeting the homeless population, including regulations
loitering, sleeping in cars, and begging.c F
shelter is costlier than providing permanent
for families. A HUD study found that
emergency shelter for a family costs approximately 

more per
month than the average monthly cost
of RI
permanent housing subsidy.d G
supportive housing models have been found to be

than conventional homeless



S.A., Kuhn E.M., Hartz A.J., Vu J.M., & Mosso A.L. (1998). Hospitalization costs associated with homelessness in New York

New England Journal of Medicine 338, 1734-1740. doi: 10.1056/NEJM199806113382406

J.V., Seitz R.S., Harada J.K., Kobayashi J., Sasaki V.K., & Wong C. (1992). Hospitalization in an urban homeless

the Honolulu Urban Homeless Project. Annals of Internal Medicine, 116:299-303

Schneed, S. (1991). Lives in the shadows: some of the
costs and consequences of a D´1RQ6\VWHPµRI
“Non-System” of care.

Foundation for Mental Health, University of Texas.
Retrieved on July 13, 2017 from

D., Shinn, M., et. al. (2015, July). Family options study: short-term impacts of housing
and services interventions for

families. U.S. Department of Housing
and Urban Development, Office of Policy
Development and Research, 138.

T.C. (2011). Using common themes: cost-effectiveness of permanent
supported housing for people with mental

Research on Social Work Practice 21(4), 409. doi: 10.1177/1049731510387307


A Place to Call Home

Improving Access to Housing for Justice-Involved
People Benefits Everyone
Because of housing’s central role in reentry success, access to stable housing improves life not only for the
individual—it benefits all of us.


Housing is a platform for opportunity. When someone is released from jail or prison or otherwise moving

forward after criminal justice involvement, they must address many immediate needs and concerns. Safe and
affordable housing makes it possible for people to engage in the things they want and need to do, such as:



Find and keep a job


Attend school or vocational training


Achieve or maintain physical and mental health


Support and care for their families


Become financially stable


Contribute to their community

Increased access to housing reduces taxpayer cost.

Providing housing as quickly as possible after justice
involvement can reduce other public costs, reaping overall
savings. The cost of providing emergency shelter is generally as
much or more than the cost of placing someone in transitional
or permanent housing.14 For individuals coping with severe
behavioral issues and chronic homelessness, who often touch
multiple government systems including hospitals, shelters,
prisons and jails, foster care, and child welfare, supportive
housing has been shown to save $10,100 per person per year.15
Because quality housing of all types promotes stability, it
reduces people’s use of shelters and public systems and, thus,
taxpayer costs.16

Quickly getting
people into housing
after incarceration
creates stability
so that people can
prosper in all areas
of their lives,
which increases
public safety.

We’re already making choices about how we invest our resources in housing. We’re paying for hospital
emergency room visits, which don’t promote health; the shelter system, which doesn’t provide the stability
or benefits of a home; and we’re paying for costly prison and jail stays that too often lead to a cycle of
homelessness, recidivism, and repeated stays in the correctional system. Housing can operate as a platform
that breaks this costly cycle.


Stable housing increases public safety. Improving access to stable, affordable, quality housing
substantially increases the likelihood that a person leaving prison or jail will be able to connect with
existing family support, find and retain employment, and rebuild supportive social networks, reducing

A Place to Call Home




reliance on homeless shelters and increasing public safety.17
Quickly getting people into housing after incarceration creates
stability so that people can prosper in all areas of their lives,
which increases public safety. Stable housing makes it easier
for people to comply with the conditions of criminal justice
supervision like probation and parole, and makes it easier for
those systems to provide supervision.

People with criminal

Housing promotes family stability upon reentry. Like all of
us, people who have paid their debt to society should have
the chance to reunify with their families and have a home
where children can visit or live. Providing a true home for
people with criminal justice histories helps families get back
together, stay together, and provide support to each other. It
helps parents care for and support their children, fostering
intact families and strengthening parent-child bonds. Housing
promotes community cohesiveness by giving a person a place
to belong with a built-in support structure to assist them as
they navigate the process of reestablishing ties.

and public housing

A Place to Call Home

justice histories
are often shut out
of both the private
markets because of
policies and practices
that discriminate
against them.

Reducing Barriers to Housing for People with Justice
People with criminal justice histories are often shut out of both the private and public housing markets
because of policies and practices that discriminate against them. In order to successfully reintegrate this
population, these systemic barriers must be reduced through mechanisms like the following:


Promote “ban the box” initiatives and eliminate discrimination by landlords. “Ban the box” policies
promote fair procedures by requiring landlords to make individualized assessments of applicants and
limit consideration of criminal history to convictions only from the recent past. New York’s governor
signed an executive order banning discrimination in housing against people with criminal justice
histories in New York State-funded housing, which includes every building that utilizes Low Income
Housing Tax Credits or accepts Section 8 vouchers. The New Orleans Housing Authority changed
its admissions policy to remove automatic exclusions for criminal records and create a fair process for
individual review. Cities like San Francisco, Seattle, Newark, and Washington D.C. have passed “ban the
box” ordinances, which remove questions about criminal records from housing applications.

A Place to Call Home



Reform policies that exclude current tenants after an arrest or conviction.

For decades, many public housing authorities have operated under “one strike” policies, which seek
eviction or permanent exclusion of tenants who are arrested. With encouragement from HUD,18 some
housing authorities, including the New York City Housing Authority are reconsidering policies that
permanently exclude tenants after an arrest.19


Develop creative partnerships and set-asides to include the justice-involved in housing programs.

The Oakland Housing Authority has set aside a number of units for women exiting jail and
reuniting with their children. To be eligible, mothers must participate in a counseling, education, and
employment assistance program in the jail and continue with case management services once they
return to their community. A number of programs in other cities help people with criminal records
access public housing units.
These sorts of innovative policies, partnerships, and models should be replicated and expanded.


A Place to Call Home

Increasing Housing Options for People with Criminal Records
People who have had involvement with the criminal justice system are individuals with unique needs. To
serve these many needs, there must be a spectrum of types of housing available, as well as increased in-reach
into correctional facilities to identify and assess people before they are released so that they can immediately
access the best housing choice for them. Only through such a diverse array of strategies can we hope to
achieve outcomes that align with our shared values and the goal of having people achieve stable, self-sufficient
lives after justice involvement.

Housing Models that Work
Policymakers and practitioners must invest resources in a broad spectrum of housing models
because no one-size-fits-all model will meet the needs of the different groups of people who need
housing after criminal justice involvement. Here are four programs that have been proven to work
to meet the needs of specific populations—the chronically homeless, people with substance abuse
and/or mental health histories, and people seeking to reunite with their families in public housing:


Returning Home Ohio (RHO): In February 2007, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and
Correction partnered with the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH) to create a new
supportive housing pilot aimed at preventing homelessness and reducing recidivism for
individuals returning to Ohio’s communities from state prisons. The pilot, which was funded
by the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, targeted people with histories of chronic
homelessness or who are at risk for homelessness upon release, and gave priority to those who
need supportive services to address mental illness, addiction, and/or developmental disabilities.
An Urban Institute evaluation during a one-year follow-up period found that RHO participants
were 60% less likely to be reincarcerated and 40% less likely to be rearrested for any crime.
They received more mental health and substance abuse services and received them sooner than
a comparison group, and they had extremely low use of emergency shelters following release.a


Fortune Society’s Housing Initiatives: In New York, the Fortune Academy (referred to as “The
Castle” for its gothic architecture) provides both emergency and transitional housing to justiceinvolved individuals experiencing homelessness, which prepares people for permanent housing.
The building includes 18 emergency housing beds, and a longer-term, 41-bed transitional
housing program. The Castle’s eligibility criteria have a deliberately low threshold: criminal
justice history, homelessness, willingness to refrain from violence or threat of violence, and
agreement to engage in services. Clients benefit from an environment carefully designed to
meet the needs of people with justice system involvement, offering on-site counseling and
peer supports, and lifetime aftercare that recognizes the nonlinear process from homelessness
to building a new life. “Castle Gardens,” located next door to The Castle, is a supportive and
affordable, permanent residential community for people experiencing homelessness who are
returning from jail or prison, as well as community members with lower incomes. The building
has 50 units of affordable housing for the community, 63 units for formerly incarcerated
residents, and a unit for the building super. The building features a computer lab, library,

A Place to Call Home


community room, roof terraces with gardens, and a Service Center where residents can access
counseling services, case management, licensed substance abuse treatment, financial planning,
and other life-skill development courses.b


NYCHA Family Reentry Program: Many public housing authorities across the country ban
people who have criminal records, which prevents them from reuniting with their families after
incarceration. The New York City Housing Authority’s Family Reentry Program was established
in partnership with the Vera Institute of Justice, the Corporation for Supportive Housing,
the New York City Department of Homeless Services, and multiple nonprofit reentry service
providers, and with the support of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
It aims to ease such one-strike bans by providing a screening process to allow people to rejoin
their families in public housing. The program promotes successful reentry through family
reunification, family engagement, stable housing, supportive services, and case management.
A 2016 evaluation of the pilot phase found that of 85 participants, 41 found or kept a job,
11 attended employment training, 12 were receiving training toward certifications, 12 were
attending school, and 15 were in substance-use treatment programs.c


CSH’s Frequent Users Service Enhancement “FUSE” Initiatives: The FUSE model aims to
break the cycle of incarceration and homelessness among individuals with complex behavioral
health challenges who are the highest users of jails, homeless shelters, and other crisis service
systems. Now 35 communities nationally are implementing FUSE initiatives. The model relies
on data to target high-cost, high-need individuals who frequently cycle among these systems
and provide them with a more cost-effective and humane solution that includes permanent
housing and supportive services linked to their individualized needs. The original New York City
FUSE pilot evaluation produced lasting effects in moving individuals to permanent housing:
91% of FUSE participants remained in permanent housing at 12 months, compared to 28%
of a comparison group. Those housed in FUSE spent, on average, 146.7 fewer days in shelters
than did a comparison group and had a 40% reduction in incarceration days and fewer jail
admissions. The program also had a significant and positive effect on drug abuse outcomes and
reduced the use of emergency services.d


Fontaine, J., Gilchrist-Scott, D., Roman, J., Taxy, S., & Roman, C. (2012). Supportive housing for returning prisoners: outcomes

and impacts of the Returning Home-Ohio Pilot Project. Urban Institute. Retrieved July 13, 2017 from

Corporation for Supportive Housing. (2013). Castle Gardens, New York, NY: integrated family supportive housing. Retrieved

July 13, 2017 from Fortune will soon
be adding 6 “Just-in-Time” (JIT) emergency housing beds, and The Castle and Castle Gardens models of housing are being
replicated in Syracuse, New York.

See Bae, J., diZerega, M., Bang-Brown, J., Shanahan, R., & Subramanian, R. (2016). Coming home: an evaluation of the New York City

Housing Authority’s Family Reentry Pilot Program. Vera Institute of Justice. Retrieved July 13, 2017 from https://storage.googleapis.

Aidala, A., McAllister, W., Yomogida, M., & Shubert, V. (2013). Frequent Users Service Enhancement ‘FUSE’ Initiative: New York City FUSE

II evaluation report. Retrieved July 13, 2017 from


A Place to Call Home

To serve the many but individually unique needs of people with criminal justice involvement, we must offer
a range of housing options and we must offer them all on a much larger scale. We need transitional housing
to give people a leg up while they find their footing. We need supportive housing that helps individuals
address mental health and substance abuse issues, giving second and
third chances to those struggling with addiction or battling serious
mental health disorders. We need to remove barriers so that people
can return home to their families in public housing. We need to
prevent discrimination in the private housing market against people
with criminal histories. And we need, quite simply, more safe and
habitable housing that people can afford and want to live in.

Policies and

practices that

prevent people with

The choices we make about how we invest our resources in housing
should match our priorities as a society. Some would argue that
housing is a human right. If we consider it to be such, then the
level of shelter we provide must be consistent with principles of
human dignity. As we allocate resources, we must ask: What type
of housing makes us safer? What enhances human dignity? What
builds community? What promotes family stability? What supports
individual economic well-being, health, and mental health?

criminal justice
histories from
securing adequate
housing must

In order to provide safe, supportive, and affordable housing for
people with past criminal justice involvement, policymakers must
embrace innovative ways to meet their needs and help them achieve
stability and success in their communities. We therefore recommend
that governments invest in housing for people with criminal justice
histories as an investment in public safety, in families, and in economic
opportunity. This includes removing barriers that keep people with
criminal histories from finding and keeping stable, permanent
housing and providing a spectrum of housing opportunities for
people who are justice-involved so they can meet their potential, no matter what their needs.

change; only then will
everyone truly have
a place to call home.

All of this calls for a multi-pronged, values-based, housing strategy that acknowledges, assesses, and addresses
the individualized needs of people with a history of justice involvement and provides them with appropriate,
stable housing as quickly as possible. Policies and practices that prevent people with criminal justice histories
from securing adequate housing must change; only then will everyone truly have a place to call home.

A Place to Call Home


1	 Guerino, P., Harrison, P.M., & Sabol. W.J. (2011) Prisoners in 2010.

13	 For a thorough discussion of the barriers facing justice involved

U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, NCJ 236096.
Retrieved from

individuals seeking private and public housing, see generally,
Legal Action Center. (2016). Helping moms, dads & kids
to come home: eliminating barriers to housing for people
with criminal records, 6-11. Retrieved July 13, 2017 from

2	 Glaze, L.E. & Bonczar, T.P. (2010). Probation and parole in the United

States. U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, NCJ 2316742011.
Retrieved from
Brame, R., Turner, M.G., Paternoster, R., & Bushway, S.D. (2012)

Cumulative prevalence of arrest from ages 8 to 23 in a national sample,”
Pediatrics, 129(1), 21-27; doi: 10.1542/peds.2010-3710
4	 At least 95% of those held in state prisons will be released back into

their communities. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics,
Reentry trends in the United States, 1980-2002. Retrieved from
5	 Beck, A.J. (2006, June 27). The importance of successful reentry

to jail population growth (presented at the Urban Institute’s
Jail Reentry Roundtable). Retrieved July 13, 2017, from
6	 Guerino, P., Harrison, P.M., & Sabol, supra n.1
7	 The reentry population tends to have serious physical health

needs: people in jails and prisons are far more likely to have
chronic illnesses and communicable diseases including HIV or
AIDS, hepatitis C, and tuberculosis, see National Commission on
Correctional Health Care. (2002). The health status of soon-tobe-released prisoners: a report to congress, vol. 1. Retrieved from; Hammett,
T., Roberts, C. & Kennedy, S. (2001). Health-Related Issues
in Prisoner Reentry. Crime & Delinquency, 47(3), 390-409. doi:
8	 People who are incarcerated are two to four times more likely to suffer

from mental illness than the general population. Hammett,T., Roberts,
C. & Kennedy, S., supra n.7
9	 More than 10 percent of those entering our prisons or jails are

homeless in the months before their incarceration and, for those with
mental illness, that rate is even higher–about 20 percent. Metraux,
S. & Culhane, D.P. (2004). Homeless shelter use and reincarceration
following prison release: assessing the risk. Criminology and Public Policy,
3(2), 139-160. doi: 10.1111/j.1745-9133.2004.tb00031.x. Those with
a history of shelter use before their incarceration are nearly five times
more likely to end up back in the shelter system after release.
10	 Rhodes, W., et al. (2014). Following incarceration, most released

offenders never return to prison. Crime & Delinquency 62(8), 10031025. doi: 10.1177/0011128714549655
11	 In New York, for example, three out of four parole violations are for

such technical infractions. The Editorial Board (2016, February 14).
New York’s broken parole system. The New York Times. Retrieved from
12	 See, for

example, Prisoner Reentry Institute at John Jay
College of Criminal Justice. (2014). Three quarter houses:
the view from the inside, 34. Retrieved July 13, 2017 from

Photo credits
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Page 11: © Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images


A Place to Call Home

14	 Multiple studies have documented the cost savings of supportive

housing, including: Rethink Homelessness. (2014). The cost of longterm homelessness in Central Florida. Retrieved July 13, 2017 from Thomas, M.L., Shears, J.K., Pate, M.C. & Preister,
M.A. (2014, February 14). Moore place permanent supportive
housing evaluation study year 1 report. Retrieved July 13, 2017 from
HUD has also documented the high cost of emergency shelter
when compared to costs of other types of housing: Spellman,
B., J. Khadduri, B. Sokol, & J. Leopold (2010, March). Costs
associated with first-time homelessness for families and
individuals. Office of Policy Development and Research, U.S.
Department of Housing and Urban Development. Retrieved from
15	 Levanon, S.A., Lim, S., Singh, T., Laganis, E., Stazesky, E.,

Donahue, S., Lanzara, C., Harris, T.G., Marsik, T., Greene,
C.M., Lipton, F.R., Myers, R., Karpati, A.M. (2013). New
York/New York III supportive housing evaluation: interim
utilization and cost analysis. Retrieved July 13, 2017 from
16	 Enterprise

affordable housing on families and communities: a review
of the evidence base. Retrieved July 13, 2017 from

17	 LaVigne, N.G., Lloyd, T., & Debus-Sherrill, S. (2009). One year out:

tracking the experiences of male prisoners returning to Houston,Texas.
Urban Institute. Retrieved July 13, 2017 from
18	 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Public

and Indian Housing. (2015). Guidance for public housing agencies
(PHAs) and owners of federally-assisted housing on excluding the use
of arrest records in housing decisions. PIH 2015-19. Retrieved from
19	 diZerega, M., Umbach, G., & Bae, J. (2017). Report to the New York

City Housing Authority on applying and lifting permanent exclusions
for criminal conduct. Vera Institute of Justice. Retrieved July 13,
2017 from
20	 Public Housing for People with Criminal Histories Fact Sheet.

(2015). Vera Institute of Justice. Retrieved July 13, 2017 from