Re-Entry Program for Jail/Prison Inmates.

The Second Chance Act, passed by Congress and signed by the President in early 2008, has been explicitly billed as a “first step” in developing a more effective federal response to the problem of people leaving corrections without adequate support. This act reauthorizes and revises an existing grant program within the Department of Justice, providing money to states for reentry programs, and it creates a federal interagency task force to study and
coordinate policy.

Each year, some 650,000 people leave state and federal prisons, and many times that number leave local jails. Some remain under corrections supervision, while others have served their sentences and have no further supports from the corrections system. Housing problems, including homelessness, are common among this group. These individuals tend to have incomes that are low, and they experience barriers to obtaining housing through the channels that are open to other low-income people. One result is that one in five people who leave prison becomes homeless soon thereafter, if not immediately.

People about to leave jail or prison with no place to live are generally eligible for services from HUD’s homelessness programs. Federal law has placed restrictions on the ability of people returning from prison to utilize Section 8 and Public Housing, and has authorized Public Housing Agencies to impose substantially more restrictions on them. These restrictions are often supported by tenants’ groups.

The current Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP) supports the efforts that come with the threat of homelessness towards people about to leave jail or prison. Ask your state representitive if they support this effort.

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