Evaluating strategies for re-entry housing

May 4, 2021

Findings from CORE's evaluation of the Re-Entry Housing Collaborative in Oregon, which helped remove barriers and re-house clients with criminal records.

The United States leads the world in mass incarceration. As a result, millions of formerly incarcerated community members struggle to rebuild their lives in the face of numerous barriers to re-entry. Housing is among their top challenges, as those with a criminal background are often excluded by landlords or deemed ineligible for public or supportive housing. Here in Oregon, these issues are further compounded by a lack of available and affordable housing. 

With funding from Meyer Memorial Trust, the Re-Entry Housing Collaborative sought to help, with a program aimed at removing barriers and re-housing clients with criminal records, which disproportionately impact communities of color. Cohort organizations including Urban League of Portland (ULPDX), ACCESS, and Sponsors, Inc.worked to remove financial barriers to housing including prior debt, fines, and fees. They also provided case management and additional assistance with deposits, rent, and other expenses. 

Adding to CORE’s growing body of work around housing as healthcare, we teamed up with ULPDX, Meyer and all of the cohort organizations to evaluate the program and its impacts on housing outcomes for individuals facing unique combinations of barriers due to past housing or criminal histories. 

Our findings demonstrate the substantial potential impact of targeted financial assistance combined with supportive case management in helping clients achieve better housing outcomes. 

Key findings include:

  • 63% of housed clients were housed within four months of initially engaging with the program.

  • When combined with hands-on case management, relatively small financial interventions can make a big difference for clients facing housing barriers due to criminal history. 

  • Even when financial support is provided to clients, re-entry housing programs depend on staff capacity and case management infrastructure for success. 

  • Clients felt the program was critical to their re-entry process, including preventing recidivism and helping them feel better physically and mentally. 

Clients also described the impact of the program on their lives.

“I can actually sleep and feel safe and shower and do all that I did before I ever got in trouble.”

“I’ve got a wonderful place to live, with a wonderful cat. And I could not have done any of this without the help of [the program]."

“I went from living in a cell for four years by myself to, I got my own place, I got a job, I got my car, I got my kid back.”

These and other findings will help cohort organizations advocate for continued support for their efforts to serve this often-overlooked population. 

To learn more about this work and other housing as healthcare efforts, contact us!

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