Bulletin Reports

Reentry Housing Options

The Bureau of Justice Assistance has sponsored Reentry Housing Options: The Policymakers’ Guide to provide practical steps that lawmakers and others can take to increase public safety through better access to affordable housing for individuals released to the community. In most jurisdictions, people returning from incarceration find accessible and affordable housing in short supply. They often face additional challenges unique to individuals with a criminal history that make it even more difficult to obtain suitable housing.

Historically, the national debate on housing for people returning from prison or jail has been considered within broader discussions of affordable housing. However, as the number of formerly incarcerated individuals has skyrocketed over the past few decades, widespread concern has developed about how to provide them with housing in ways that promote public safety. The high cost associated with not doing so for the growing reentry population has become apparent, prompting many jurisdictions across the country to look for innovative approaches to increase affordable housing capacity for newly released individuals.

Without a stable residence, these people can find it nearly impossible to reconnect positively to a community. Significant costs to public safety in the form of increased crime and victimization can occur. Moreover, when newly released individuals lack stable housing and fail to maintain steady employment, children and others who depend on them for support are adversely affected.

The guide begins with a short narrative on housing options and a chart that profiles six alternatives for reentry housing. Then, the document goes on to examine three distinct approaches (greater access, increased housing stock, revitalized neighborhoods) to enhance the availability of these housing options, giving examples of how a particular jurisdiction has put each of the three into action. The three jurisdiction examples help illustrate a cross-section of the categories of housing and the types of tactics available to policymakers wishing to increase the reentry housing stock in their jurisdiction. Moreover, the examples were selected because of the broad applicability of their methods to other jurisdictions faced with similar affordable housing shortages for individuals returning from prison and jail.

Reentry Housing Options: The Policymakers’ Guide (NCJ 230589) can be obtained by accessing the National Criminal Justice Reference Service’s Web site, http://www.ncjrs.gov.