Reducing Homelessness for People with Behavioral Health Needs Leaving Prisons and Jails

Recommendations to California's Council on Criminal Justice and Behavioral Health

Reducing Homelessness for People with Behavioral Health Needs Leaving Prisons and Jails

Homelessness is a longstanding problem in California, as it is in much of the U.S. While homelessness has many root causes, including an overall lack of affordable housing and lack of coordination between social service systems, incarceration is a major risk factor. This report highlights 5 areas where people with behavioral health needs leaving California prisons and jails experience the greatest challenges in accessing housing. It also provides 10 complementary recommendations for actions that state, county, and local leaders can take to reduce homelessness among this population.

Charles Francis, Thomas Coyne, and Katie Herman | February 2021 | The Council of State Governments Justice Center, Melville Charitable Trust

Project Credits

Writing: Charles Francis, Thomas Coyne, Katie Herman, CSG Justice Center

Research: Katie Herman, Thomas Coyne, Charles Francis, CSG Justice Center

Advising: Hallie Fader-Towe, Ayesha Delany-Brumsey, CSG Justice Center

Editing: Darby Baham, Emily Morgan, Katy Albis, CSG Justice Center

Design: Michael Bierman

ABOUT THE AUTHORS


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Charles Francis
Project Manager, Behavioral Health
Charles Francis works with state and local partners to reduce the number of people with behavioral health conditions in the justice system, focusing on policy responses at the intersection of criminal justice and housing. Before joining the CSG Justice Center,
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Charley was assistant director of Leased Housing at Rhode Island Housing, where he oversaw the launch of the first fully electronic, statewide Section 8 waiting list. At the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, he played a lead role in implementing the Rental Assistance Demonstration program. Charley holds an MPP from the Heller School for Social Policy at Brandeis University and a BA from Hamilton College.
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    Thomas Coyne
    Senior Policy Analyst, Behavioral Health
    Thomas Coyne provides technical assistance to jurisdictions addressing the housing needs of people with mental illnesses who are involved with the criminal justice system. Prior to joining the CSG Justice Center, he worked on health and housing policy with the
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    Health & Housing Integration team at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. He brings field experience from social work, having worked extensively with people who have serious mental illnesses in Washington, DC, as well as with families reuniting with their children from foster care in Michigan. Thomas earned his BS in criminal justice and BA in sociology from Madonna University and his MPP from the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration at the George Washington University.
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    Katie Herman
    Senior Policy Analyst, Behavioral Health
    Katie Herman plays a key role in the Stepping Up initiative, mental health diversion, and other work at the intersection of justice, behavioral health, and homelessness. Prior to joining the CSG Justice Center, she worked at the Center for Alternative
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    Sentencing and Employment Services (CASES) in New York City for eight years. She was initially the court liaison social worker for the CASES Nathaniel ACT Team, the city's first felony alternative to incarceration program for adults with serious mental illnesses. She then supervised their Criminal and Supreme Court Team. Katie received a BA in English from the University of San Diego and an MSW from the Columbia University School of Social Work.
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