HUD and DOJ Award $8.7 Million to Prevent and End Homelessness

For many individuals convicted of minor crimes, finding jobs and decent housing is so challenging that many are at extreme risk of homelessness or reentering the criminal justice system. Recently, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) awarded $8.7 million to address homelessness and reduce recidivism among this justice-involved population through the Pay for Success model.

HUD’s Pay for Success Permanent Supportive Housing Demonstration tests cost-effective ways to help persons cycling between the criminal justice and homeless service systems. Funded by DOJ and implemented through a HUD/DOJ partnership, this demonstration advances a model that offers a new source of financing to expand permanent supportive housing for the reentry population. This is part of a broader Administration effort to reduce barriers facing justice-involved individuals who are trying to put their lives back on track, including barriers to housing. 

“Too often, as people leave the criminal justice system, they don’t have the support network to help them get a second chance and they fall into homelessness,” says HUD Secretary Julián Castro. “These grantees have developed successful models that give returning citizens the opportunity to find a job and place to call home while reducing the costs associated with recidivism and homelessness.”

“Every person re-entering society from the justice system deserves a fair shot at a life of renewed purpose and meaning,” says Attorney General Loretta Lynch. “The Justice Department’s partnership with HUD will expand services to help individuals gain access to housing and jobs, and to give those who have served their time a chance to fully rejoin society. Going forward, we intend to continue to promote and develop programs that help our returning citizens stay safe, supported, and secure.”

Secretary Castro made the announcement at an interagency event led by DOJ at the Center for American Progress.

Research consistently demonstrates a correlation between homelessness and incarceration. The National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH) estimates that one in five people living prison becomes homeless upon reentry into the community, with an increase of 30-50 percent in major urban areas. Tracking the cycle of homelessness and incarceration in the reverse, the Council of States Governments and NAEH report that over 10 percent of people recidivating from jail and prison are homeless in the months before their incarceration.  This rate jumps to 20 percent among individuals with a mental illness. 

Pay for Success (PFS) strategies are public-private arrangements that help government test or expand innovative programs while paying only for those activities that achieve agreed-upon target outcomes. These grants will support PFS projects that implement a Housing First model for the reentry population who experience homelessness and are frequent users of homelessness, health care and other crisis services.

Established by President Obama, the Federal Interagency Reentry Council includes 20 federal agencies, that work to: 

  • make communities safer by reducing recidivism and victimization;
  • assist those who return from prison and jail in becoming productive citizens; and
  • save taxpayer dollars by lowering the direct and collateral costs of incarceration. 

The Reentry Council, recently codified by Presidential Memorandum, is removing federal barriers to successful reentry, so that motivated individuals – who have served their time and paid their dues – are able to compete for a job, attain stable housing, support their children and their families, and contribute to their communities. Reentry Council agencies are taking concrete steps to reduce recidivism and high correctional costs while improving public health, child welfare, employment, education, housing and other key reintegration outcomes.

In 2010, President Obama and 19 federal agencies and offices that form the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) launched the nation’s first comprehensive strategy to prevent and end homelessness. Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness serves as a roadmap for how the federal government will work with state and local communities to confront the root causes of homelessness, including individuals who are in and out of a variety of crisis services such as jails and prisons. Permanent supportive housing lowers public costs by stopping the revolving door between jail and prison and crisis services like those provided in emergency rooms and homeless assistance programs.

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Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2016. All rights reserved.

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