Can Housing Interventions Reduce Incarceration and Recidivism?

Feb 27, 2019
Kimberly Burrowes for How Housing Matters (Urban Institute)
Over the past two decades, criminal justice reform has focused on evidence-based interventions to prevent arrests and incarceration and to facilitate community reintegration. These initiatives represent a movement toward a less punitive, more holistic approach to public safety, targeting critical social factors that lead to and perpetuate criminal justice involvement. Because housing problems are often a key underlying factor for people’s involvement with the criminal justice system, there are ways housing interventions can help lessen criminal justice involvement. Decriminalizing homelessness, for example, can reduce rates of initial arrest and incarceration, especially for people with low-level, nonviolent offenses. A sufficient supply of affordable housing and supportive services could help people stabilize after their release from jail and reduce the likelihood of recidivism. Policymakers, advocates, and practitioners in housing and criminal justice systems can partner to promote and evaluate housing strategies that divert people from the criminal justice system.
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