Nowhere to Go: Homelessness Among Formerly Incarcerated People

Formerly Incarcerated People Encounter Many Housing Obstacles and Sectors Must Work Together

It’s hard to imagine building a successful life without a place to call home, but this basic necessity is often out of reach for formerly incarcerated people. Barriers to employment, combined with explicit discrimination, have created a little-discussed housing crisis.”

A new report from the Prison Policy Initiative explores the link between homelessness and incarceration.

  • The research shows that formerly incarcerated people are nearly ten times more likely to be homeless than the general population.
  • The risk is even higher for people who have been incarcerated more than once, and for women and people of color.

The report includes recommendations for how different sectors can work together to break the link between incarceration and homelessness.

Opportunity Starts at Home is a long-term, multi-sector campaign to meet the rental needs of the nation’s low-income people. Criminal Justice & housing is one of the many important sectors involved in the Opportunity Starts at Home campaign.

According to the campaign: “Individuals transitioning out of the criminal justice system need a good place to call home so that they can reconnect with society and rebuild their lives.”

Opportunity Starts at Home shared the following quotes linking homelessness and incarceration:

People with criminal records encounter many housing obstacles.

“Studies have shown that formerly incarcerated individuals experience high rates of homelessness, and in some urban areas an estimated 30% to 50% of people on parole have no place to call home. Research has also shown that formerly incarcerated individuals who cannot find stable affordable housing are more likely to recidivate than those who do. With so many tenants and so few rental units available to low income households, landlords often use criminal background checks to narrow the applicant pool for their housing. These housing practices and policies disproportionately impact people of color and people with disabilities, as these persons are over-represented in the U.S. criminal justice system.” Quoted from the Reentry and Housing Coalition.

The housing needs of the formerly incarcerated have been a critical issue for many years.

“This year, some 600,000 inmates will be released from prison back into society. We know from long experience that if they can’t find work, or a home, or help, they are much more likely to commit more crimes and return to prison…. America is the land of the second chance, and when the gates of the prison open, the path ahead should lead to a better life.” President George W. Bush, 2004 State of the Union Address

The non-profit, non-partisan Prison Policy Initiative produces cutting edge research to expose the broader harm of mass criminalization, and then sparks advocacy campaigns to create a more just society.

Nowhere to Go

People with Criminal Records Encounter Many Housing Obstacles

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