People who have been to prison are 10 times more likely to be homeless than the general public, according to a report released Tuesday by the Prison Policy Initiative (PPI).
In the report, entitled Nowhere to Go, the PPI found that over two percent of formerly incarcerated people are homeless and that “nearly twice as many are living in precarious housing situations close to homelessness.”
The report, which the PPI said was the first national snapshot of homelessness among formerly incarcerated people, describes the problem of homelessness among formerly incarcerated as a “little-discussed housing and public safety crisis.”
According to the PPI study, written by Lucius Couloute, the increased likjelihood that an individual leaving prison will be homeless is an “irony considering that police departments regularly arrest and jail the homeless.”
Couloute said landlords and public housing authorities “have wide discretion to punish people with criminal records long after their sentences are over.”
His study said the problem was “fixable” through targeted public policy measures, including:
- Regulating competitive housing markets to prevent blanket discrimination;
- Creating statewide reentry systems to help recently-released Americans find homes;
- Ending the criminalization of homelessness in U.S. cities;
- Expanding social services for all homeless people, with a “Housing First” approach.
The full report can be downloaded here.