Updated: Aug 20
Many people underestimate how difficult it can be to leave prison. When it's time to depart, things can look very different, including a lack of solid and secure accommodations.
Housing is one of the most significant changes that must be made after release. Former offenders face other hurdles such as acclimating to civilian life and obtaining a job. The most important issue after being released from prison, without a doubt, is finding a safe place to live. Finding a place to live may be more difficult if you have a criminal record. Fortunately, there are various options available to assist you in taking that first step toward a normal life by providing safe, secure, and inexpensive housing for the next chapter of your life.
Homelessness among ex-offenders
There are around five million former inmates in the United States today. These people are ten times more likely to become homeless than the typical citizen, and evidence shows that it happens almost immediately after they are released.
For recently released inmates in need of a safe place to stay, homeless shelters can be a huge help. Undiagnosed or untreated mental illness, drug and alcohol addiction, and recurrent criminal activity have impacted many people who do not have family support.
Although many studies emphasize the importance of family during reintegration into society, longer prison terms have an impact on family relationships. Sometimes those ties are irreparably broken, leaving those who are unable to return home after serving time in jail or prison with no other option but to live on the streets.
There are a variety of programs available to assist newly released and former offenders who require secure housing.
Officials understand that for recently released inmates who have been accustomed to a controlled atmosphere, re-acclimating to a free society can be a huge challenge.
Recovery Residence This sort of temporary housing, often known as a halfway house, is specially created to assist newly released inmates. It is not a long-term housing option, but it may be required as part of a release or parole condition. Residents must adhere to house rules throughout their stay, which include not committing crimes and not violating parole. A rehabilitation residence's rent normally ranges from $450 to $600 per month.
Shelter A homeless shelter is a sort of temporary accommodation designed to meet immediate needs. Emergency shelters are not an ideal long-term housing option, according to a New York research, as those individuals are more likely to be reincarcerated than those who find alternative forms of shelter. In addition, several states, do not regard homeless shelters as acceptable places to live for parole purposes.
Staying with family or friends
While incarcerated, it can be difficult to preserve family and social contacts. The longer someone is incarcerated, the more likely these ties would deteriorate over time. Family and friends, on the other hand, can provide some of the safest lodging possibilities for a freshly released offender. Although this is one of the most common options for parole officers, not all offenders have this option.
Financial support options
When you leave prison, it is often with minimal funds, which can put you at a disadvantage when finding housing. Thankfully, several financial assistance programs can help get you back on your feet.
The federal government provides assistance to ex-offenders through a variety of initiatives.
TANF The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program is designed to provide low-income families with financial assistance. This program is accessible to offenders with children who are striving for self-sufficiency. The TANF program may assist with your typical monthly living expenses, such as rent, food, utilities, and transportation. TANF has programs in each state to provide local aid.
SNAP The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service. SNAP was created to ensure that no American goes hungry, offering food stamps to give people access to free or reduced-cost food. These benefits are delivered through an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card, which can be used as a debit card at authorized retailers.
LIHEAP The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is also federally funded. The Home Energy Assistance Program helps low-income households with home energy costs by administering Regular Assistance and Crisis Intervention Programs. Each program provides financial assistance to eligible households with a one-time per year payment to the household's energy supplier or, under certain circumstances, to the applicant. The Crisis Intervention Program provides assistance to eligible households facing energy-related emergencies.
HUD HUD is another source of housing support when you have difficulty affording rent. There are public housing options reserved explicitly for low-income renters who otherwise could not afford the growing cost of rent in their neighborhoods. The Housing Choice Voucher Program, also known as Section 8, can provide free or reduced rent at an eligible rental of your choosing. HUD offers assistance to landlords so they can pass those savings to low-income renters through discounted rent each month.
These resources may be useful in helping you find safe accommodation after you've been released.
Reentry into society resources
The Central Arkansas ReEntry Coalition (C.A.R.E.) is comprised of members who support the day to day work of assisting those in transition from incarceration, homelessness and other life events back into the community.
The Fair Shake Reentry Resource Center provides national, state, and local reentry guides to help former offenders in a variety of ways.
The Prison Fellowship provides reentry ministry as well as faith-based services.
Resources for finding jobs that accept ex-offenders
The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) is a federal tax credit meant to incentivize business owners to hire those who were formerly incarcerated. Under the program, ex-felons must receive employment within either one year of release or the end of parole or probation.
The Federal Bonding Program helps employers avoid additional risk by offering additional employment insurance. With this protection, employers hiring ex-felons do not have to worry about things like larceny, theft, forgery or other potential types of losses that can come with this insurance coverage.