HousingHelping people released from prisons or jails to find safe places to live is critical to reducing homelessness and recidivism and to ensuring stable housing situations for the children, families, and communities. Research has shown that people who do not find stable housing in the community are more likely to recidivate than those who do. According to a qualitative study by the Vera Institute of Justice, people released from prison and jail to parole who entered homeless shelters in New York City were seven times more likely to abscond during the first month after release than those who had some form of housing.

Key Resources

  • The Housing and Reentry Resource Page is a collection of resources on affordable housing and homelessness, assembled and curated for reentry service providers. Corrections and reentry program staff can use these resources to find local housing service providers, to learn more about affordable housing and homelessness prevention policy, and to find examples of innovative and promising program design that can reduce housing insecurity among people exiting jail or prison.

  • Assessing Housing Needs and Risks: A Screening Questionnaire is intended to help reentry professionals better assess an individual’s unique housing needs and risk of homelessness upon returning to the community. It should be used as a supplement to any existing intake or case planning processes.
  • Exploring the Gaps in Residential Reentry Center Research: A Compendium Guide of Resources for Reentry Professionals and Policymakers lists the available research on the effectiveness and best practices of residential reentry centers (commonly known as halfway houses). Corrections and reentry professionals can use this compendium guide to review the most relevant resources informing halfway house practices. This guide also highlights the relative paucity of research about the effectiveness of halfway houses in reducing recidivism and promoting successful reentry, and makes recommendations for future work in these areas. 

  • Housing and the Sequential Intercept Model: A How-to Guide for Planning for the Housing Needs of Individuals with Justice Involvement and Mental Illness, Diana T. Myers and Associates, Inc. (2010)
    The Pennsylvania Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS) recognizes that stable housing is a critical element to any successful strategy designed to reduce justice involvement among individuals with mental illness. In recognition of this fact, OMHSAS commissioned this Handbook to assist communities in engaging in a planning process to increase housing opportunities and decrease justice involvement and recidivism among individuals with mental illness.
  • Reentry Housing Options: The Policymakers' Guide, Council of State Governments Justice Center (2010)
    The policy guide 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. It offers an overview of several commonly accessed housing options and also examines three distinct approaches to increasing the availability of these options: improving access, increasing housing stock and revitalizing neighborhoods.
  • Housing Information Series: Obtaining Housing for People with Criminal Histories,┬áDiana T. Myers and Associates, Inc.
    This paper, as presented in a question and answer format, is designed to provide accurate information to agencies and individuals about these laws and policies, and to provide practical strategies for maximizing housing opportunities for persons with justice involvement. This document will review: resources available to assist individuals with justice involvement in addressing the challenges they may face when applying for housing; the laws that govern Public Housing Authority admission policies; strategies for working with your local Public Housing Authority; partnerships with private landlords in your community; and applicable Fair Housing laws.
  • An Affordable Home on Reentry: Federally Assisted Housing and Previously Incarcerated Individuals, National Housing Law Project (2008)
    This guide discusses the rights and interests of previously incarcerated individuals to access and remain in public and federally assisted housing. The guide cites to statutes, regulations and cases and includes sample pleadings.
  • Supportive Housing Quality Toolkit, Corporation for Supporting Housing (2008)
    The CSH Dimensions of Quality Supportive Housing were developed based on conversations with providers across the country in communities that ranged in size and geographic location. Although quality supportive housing projects are diverse, CSH worked to distill the common elements into four primary components of a project.
  • Reference Guide for Public Housing Officials on the Federal Housing Laws Regarding Admission and Eviction Standards for People with Criminal Records, Legal Action Center (2004)
    Public Housing Authorities(PHAs) encounter many complex issues regarding the admission and eviction of people with criminal records. Chief among these are the lack of affordable housing stock that creates enormous pressure for PHAs as they seek to meet the housing needs of various populations. Others are issues of fairness, public safety, and fear of liability. This guidebook addresses some of these important concerns and highlights innovative practices that local housing authorities around the country have implemented to tackle these important challenges.