When individuals with criminal records are unable to find safe and permanent housing, it often has a devastating impact on their children and other family members. People with criminal records and their families face an under-reported and broad range of laws, policies and practices that impede their ability to find and retain safe, affordable housing. Clearly, these housing restrictions are a national problem that must be addressed, at a time when: 1) more than 70 million Americans—one in three adults—have an arrest or conviction record, 2) at least 11 million people are cycling through our nation’s jails, and 3) more than 600,000 people are returning home from prison each year.
This report assesses some of the most common and pernicious obstacles to housing that confront Americans with criminal records and their families. It also examines innovative federal, state, and municipal initiatives that are helping people to overcome those obstacles. Innovative state and local initiatives are those that:
- Encourage family reunification.
- Encourage individualized determinations.
- Include more justice-involved people in housing programs.
- Increase private/public supportive housing developments.
- Use tax credits to spur affordable housing and create set-asides for justice-involved individuals and families.
- Enact anti-discrimination protections and “ban the box” on housing applications.
- Reduce landlord liability when they give second chances.
Helping Moms, Dads & Kids Come Home: Eliminating barriers to housing for people with criminal records reiterates the fact that housing is an essential foundation for successful re-entry and also a critical part of family preservation.