Addressing the Barriers to Re-entry

For the millions of formerly incarcerated people living in the United States, the hardships associated with doing time do not disappear once their sentence has been served. Approximately 641,000 people are released from prison each year, and over 9 million are released from jail, composing an ever-growing demographic of individuals affected by the prison system with unique needs and struggles. A central challenge to those reentering society from behind bars is that of housing: finding a stable and affordable place to live is a difficult task for many, one which is compounded for those formerly incarcerated. A 2015 study conducted by the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights found that eight in ten formerly incarcerated individuals reported being denied housing due to their prior convictions, and that over half of those released from prison or jail find themselves without, or in highly unstable, housing.

This issue is cyclical, residing at the intersection of homelessness and mass incarceration. While the homeless are at a heightened risk of becoming incarcerated, one in ten of those who have done time in prison will experience homelessness post-release.

For those without a place to live post-incarceration, recidivism rates increase at least 70%: this includes those who must move often due to eviction or an unreliable living situation, as well as those who find themselves homeless upon their release due to discrimination in the public housing system.

Fixing our criminal justice system is an expansive task, but one simple and necessary part of that effort can be found in ensuring secure housing for individuals as they exit the prison system. Re-entry housing programs, like Re:store’s Oakland location, are a critical part of this. Those without partners or families to live with upon release face limited housing opportunities. For those convicted as juveniles, this may be the first place they have ever lived on their own. At a critical point in the process of rehabilitation and re-entry, housing is the first major hurdle we must address in avoiding recidivism and giving the formerly incarcerated a fair chance to successfully rejoin society.

Paving the Path Forward, Together.

Re:store’s Oakland re-entry home seeks to aid those recently released in securing a stable place to live, as well as in accessing re-entry services. As both a place to live for formerly incarcerated individuals and an office space for Re:store’s Bay Area outreach, the house acts as a center for activism and rehabilitative efforts, placing those directly impacted by mass incarceration at the forefront of the effort to reform our justice system.

A Special Thank You

Re:store Justice thanks Lawrence Purcell, Catholic Worker Hospitality House, and the Michael Scott Fund at Philanthropic Ventures Foundation for making this re-entry house possible.


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