Via City Lab: "Many of those released this weekend and in the future will be sheltered by family and loved ones. Others will have steeper challenges, and even those who do get sheltered may be there only temporary. At some point, the released need to find permanent housing, or the closest thing to it. In theory, the kind of housing most affordable and available for this population is public housing. But the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has unsteady rules on public housing eligibility for people with felony convictions. People convicted of sex offender crimes and those busted for manufacturing crystal meth in federally assisted housing are banned for life from public housing benefits. But most other decisions on public housing eligibility are left to local public housing authorities, which can have varying and dizzying criteria. As these returning citizens become prospective housing candidates, they’re likely to encounter resistance that can be as severe as neighbors actively petitioning against their re-entry into communities.
For those returning who might have mental health challenges, permanent supportive housing can be an ideal fit for them, but many neighborhoods shun the placement of this kind of housing in their neighborhoods. As the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights recently reported, four out of five formerly incarcerated surveyed this year were denied housing or were determined ineligible due to criminal backgrounds. President Obama has among his announcements today new federal guidelines on admitting people with criminal records into public housing, and $8.7 million for a permanent supportive housing program for the formerly imprisoned."