Barriers to Housing for Justice-Involved Persons

The United States incarcerates its citizens at a shockingly high rate and nearly one in three Americans has a criminal record.

Federal and state lawmakers are now reexamining sentencing policies that have proven to be overly punitive and harmful to families and communities, and they are working towards comprehensive criminal justice reform.  At the end of 2018, Congress and President Trump approved the First Step Act, which included modest sentencing reforms, providing relief to 3,000 people serving harsh sentences in federal prison.

As more formerly incarcerated individuals return to their communities, though, there is growing concern about how they will fare upon reentry. Resources, especially for affordable housing, are already scarce in low-income communities where formerly incarcerated persons typically return. Because of their criminal records, justice-involved individuals face additional barriers in accessing affordable housing, putting them at risk of homelessness and subsequent recidivism.

Unless HUD and Congress work to reduce these barriers by reforming screening policies and providing additional housing resources, large-scale efforts to reduce the U.S. prison population are likely to result in an even greater unmet demand for housing, potentially undermining the success of those efforts.

Ultimately, the cost savings resulting from lowering incarceration rates should be redirected to the communities to which justice-involved individuals will return to ensure their successful transition to life outside of incarceration.

For more information on Criminal Justice Reform, contact Sarah Saadian Mickelson, Director of Policy, at smickelson@nlihc.org or 202.662.1530 x228. Members of the media should contact Renee Willis, Vice President for Field and Communications, at 202.662.1530 x247 or rwillis@nlihc.org.

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