What is the least common problem returning ex-offenders face?
Well, it is not homelessness.
In 2008, the Prison Policy Initiative reported that in every 10000 formerly incarcerated people, 203 are homeless. Put into a percentage, 2% of the total ex-offenders were homeless that year.
Forget about a good job, living well, and other luxurious human wants. Shortly after release, former convicts have to struggle to meet their immediate needs. Imagine being imprisoned for ten or more years. Then a day dawns, and you’re released into the community. And probably you do not have someone close to rely on nor income to keep you going. Where will you source your food, clothing, and shelter?
Causes of homelessness after incarceration
One would expect that those returning into the community are accorded some sort of a grace period. A period to search for a job, create new friends, and generally adapt to the life out of confinement. Sadly, that is not the case. Ex-offenders have to rent, buy food and clothes at the same price as the general public. The community setup doesn’t recognize that they were imprisoned and need some time to adapt to the new life out of prison. Instead, returning ex-offenders face the same standards.
The Fair Housing Act FHA prohibits housing discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, and family status. But, sadly, the Act doesn’t protect people with criminal records. So, private and public housing authorities discriminate against people with criminal history making it difficult for them to acquire stable housing.
Deficiency of affordable houses
As the United States battle the pinch of affordable housing, low-income earners are suffering. With little to no income, ex-offenders are looking for low-priced houses that they can comfortably afford. Unfortunately, such homes are rare to find.
Most landlords conduct background checks that ultimately reveal the ex-convict’s criminal history. They then deny the ex-offenders housing based on their past.
Before conviction, most individuals are serving a debt. Ultimately, incarceration interrupts all the efforts of repaying the loans lowering their credit score. Landlords demand a good credit score as a qualification for the tenancy, which locks out most ex-offenders. Others ask for huge security deposits that ex-offender cannot raise. Credit problem makes it challenging to acquire a house.
To be sure that the tenant can raise rental fees, some other property demand for renting history. Former convicts mostly lack professional references or renting history.
Remedies to the risk of homelessness
Housing is an immediate need for returning ex-offenders. Prison officers should assist returning citizens to acquire at least short-term housing prior to their release. Available housing options include family accommodation, community-based correctional facilities, supportive housing programs, subsidized federal housing, and privately owned houses. With somewhere to live, ex-offenders can concentrate on looking for employment opportunities and serving the community.
Amendment of discriminatory policies
The state department of housing should amend discriminatory policies that hinder unfortunate populations from accessing stable housing. For example, ban landlords from using criminal histories to deny potential lessee houses.
Reentry program organizations
We at Reecareer, together with many other organizations, are resourceful in providing reentry services. An Internet search will give a couple of agencies that can help you.
Access to budget-friendly housing is a national problem. Returning ex-offenders, together with other low-income earners, are the most seriously affected. Prior arrangements can help solve issues of homelessness among returning citizens. Family members and community-based correctional organizations are among the easiest way to the source of housing.