CJPA Briefing On State Homelessness and Reentry Policy

On Thursday, April 25th, the National Governors Association (NGA) hosted its monthly briefing for the Criminal Justice Policy Advisors (CJPA) network.  The briefing discussed state actions on homelessness, with a particular focus on justice-involved populations.

The briefing featured presentations from Dr. Richard Cho, Senior Advisor for Housing and Services at the Office of the Secretary with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Charles Francis, Deputy Program Director for Behavioral Health with the Council of State Governments. The briefing included a discussion on how housing is addressed as a part of the reentry process and how being homeless impacts an individual’s interactions with the justice system.   

A few takeaways from the briefing include:

  • Housing access and availability is an issue of nationwide importance, but also one that is a significant component of successful reentry for those who are justice-involved. Due to their system involvement, many individuals may find it challenging to secure housing because of their criminal record, exclusionary policies, or a lack of overall support from community-based services.
  • Even if housing is available, affordability can present an additional barrier. According to a survey conducted by the Council of State Governments, 95% of state Departments of Corrections reported that a “lack of affordable housing options was the top housing barrier for people reentering the community.”
  • Homelessness is also a factor for increased recidivism. A 2020 study of people on probation found that unstable housing and homelessness is associated with an increased risk of recidivism compared to other risk factors.
  • In recent years, Governors have responded to this issue by generally increasing housing availability and affordability and providing targeted support through reentry programs to assist justice-involved populations.  This includes providing funding increases, implementing comprehensive plans or programs, establishing taskforces, and issuing executive actions. 

NGA holds monthly briefings for Governors’ Criminal Justice Policy Advisors. Please reach out to Maria Kearl (mkearl@nga.org) for additional information.