One criminal-justice change that President Obama has made is to make it easier for people with criminal records to live in subsidized housing, reports NPR. In New York City, Margaret diZerega supervises prison re-entry programs at the Vera Institute of Justice. She’s a consultant for a pilot program that allows former felons to move in with relatives who live in public housing. About 50 people participate, including Mike Rowe, who says, “For me, it was like a godsend.” He was selected in part because he turned his life around in prison. He earned a master’s degree, married his longtime girlfriend, had three children.
A few months after Rowe was released, he and his wife split up. He has a job counseling other ex-offenders, but when he applies for apartments, landlords turn him away. If he hadn’t been able to move in with his mom, who lives in public housing, he would have had to go to a homeless shelter. DiZerega says that can lead ex-offenders back to prison. “Because they don’t have a home …what if they are sleeping on the street or there’s public urination or some of these other things that are not public safety concerns, but put them at a higher risk of getting re-arrested for something?,” she says. DiZerega says moving in with relatives is often the only way ex-felons can have a roof over their heads.