Reintegrating Ex-Convicts Means Giving Them a Place To Live
Once out of prison, ex-convicts are faced with a series of hurdles to reintegrate back into society. The New Orleans Housing Authority (HANO) is attempting to ease part of this transition by revising policies that excluded those with criminal records from taking public housing. Michelle Chen reports in The Nation that HANO's reforms, along with reforms at the national level in the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will revisit how we treat those who have served their time. Although, as Chen notes, the policy changes will leave intact some restrictions for people on sex-offender registries and for those found manufacturing methamphetamine in federal housing.
As homelessness, prison, and mental illness overlap as reinforcing crises, housing could mean the difference between rebuilding your life and sleeping rough. One 1990s survey of homeless people showed that “18 percent had been incarcerated in a state or federal prison,” and about half had spent at least five days in jail.
Families currently in public housing face risks of losing the housing if they welcome back the newly released to live with them, as one member of the public testified, "I have a son coming home, and he’s going to need somewhere to stay—and guess what, I’m going to take a risk with my son. I will hide him on the roof. I’ll hide him under the bed. But I’ll have him here."