Taking Stock: Housing, Homelessness, and Prisoner Reentry
This report, “Taking Stock: Housing, Homelessness, and Prisoner Reentry,” examines how those who have spent time in prison or jail fare in securing safe and affordable housing following their release and discusses housing programming and practice designed to assist them. Every prisoner facing discharge from a correctional institution must answer this question: “Where will I sleep tonight?” For many returning prisoners, the family home provides an answer to that question. But reunions with families are not always possible—or are only temporary—sometimes due to the dictates of criminal justice or housing policies, or sometimes due to family dynamics. For those who cannot return to the homes of families or friends, the question of housing becomes considerably more complex. For some, the final answer to the question “Where will I sleep tonight?” is a homeless shelter or the street. Many are finding that the difficulties in securing affordable and appropriate housing complicate the reentry process, further reducing already limited chances for successful community reintegration.
The report is the culmination and synthesis of three tasks designed to inform the state of knowledge around housing, homelessness, and prisoner reentry: (1) a descriptive report on the barriers and challenges facing returning prisoners, as well as potential opportunities for serving or supporting the housing-related needs of returning prisoners, (2) a scan of promising housing and other housing-related service programs for returning prisoners and ex-offenders, and (3) a roundtable discussion by experts in the field held in Washington, D.C., on October 30, 2003. The goal of the roundtable was to bring together prominent practitioners, researchers, and community leaders to identify the most pressing housing issues and the most promising strategies for resolving these issues. The report and scan of practice were developed to serve as background materials to help frame the discussion, already underway in many communities, about the extent of the housing challenges faced by returning prisoners. The roundtable participants were provided a copy of the draft report and scan of practice. After the roundtable, the report was revised to include a synthesis of the roundtable discussion. (Authors)
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