There is a need for policymakers and re-entry programs to prioritize housing to support formerly incarcerated people and reduce recidivism, according to a study recently published in Cityscape: A Journal of Policy Development and Research by researchers from Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University.
Previous research shows stable and safe housing provide benefits for formerly incarcerated people (e.g., maintaining sobriety, mental health, etc.), yet securing post-incarceration housing is a pervasive challenge.
As part of an evaluation of Second Chance Act program, funded by the National Institute of Justice, researchers from the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University interviewed 31 people who were three months to three years post-incarceration. While participants came from three different geographical regions of the United States, commonalities were seen across barriers that formerly incarcerated people face in securing safe and stable housing. Key findings include:
- Despite differences in housing markets, housing affordability was uniformly a challenge.
- Housing affordability was exacerbated by difficulty in securing a job or finding a job with livable wages or high enough required income.
- Other financial requirements, like deposits and a positive credit history, further complicated securing housing.
- Having involvement in the criminal legal system substantially limits housing options.
- Prohibitive paperwork requirements combined with inflexible timing of parole meetings made securing help with paperwork challenging.
- Conditions of parole or probation may limit where individuals can live.
- Many leave incarceration without necessary birth certificates, social security, or other identification needed for securing housing.
Participants noted re-entry programs provided valuable assistance to overcome some of these barriers (providing housing recommendations, relationships with landlords, budgeting and financial assistance), but affordability and housing shortages persist.
The current housing challenges faced by formerly incarcerated individuals parallels broader employment, income, poverty, and housing-access issues the country faces as a whole, the authors say. Yet, they say, there is tremendous opportunity for development of innovative solutions that will have real-world impact by cross-sector partners on the ground, as well as by federal policy makers in the justice and housing sectors.
Read the full study here.