Massachusetts:  Preventing Homelessness Among Reentering Prisoners

Icon

Best Practice | August 18, 2006

The Massachusetts reentry initiative program will assess offenders' needs in housing, substance abuse, mental health, and employment, then address these needs by developing individual program participation plans. The grant will provide housing-related services and hire 6 full-time housing specialists.
 
Target Population:
 
The initiative will target those high-risk offenders aged 18-35 who are being released without supervision. These offenders tend to not otherwise access services and pose the greatest threat to public safety.
 
Program Description:
 
The Department of Corrections is committed to ensuring that each offender has safe and proper housing, with the understanding that emergency housing is not acceptable, safe, nor proper. With that commitment in mind, the Department of Corrections has created a one-year contract with the South Middlesex Opportunity Counsel and HomeStart in Boston (see Best Practice at http://www.endhomelessness.org/best/homestart.htm) to hire 6 housing specialists. The Department of Corrections itself will begin planning a year before each offender's release to find the services the offender will need, including housing. There is one case manager in each of the 18 Department of Corrections facilities. The housing specialists will complement the Department of Corrections's efforts, creating a two-tiered system. In the first tier, the Department of Corrections will work to house all returning offenders. In the second tier, the South Middlesex Opportunity Counsel and HomeStart will locate housing and stabilization services for those with out stable living arrangements and who have a rapidly impending release dates. HomeStart will provide one housing specialist to serve the Boston area and the South Middlesex Opportunity Counsel will offer placements in its own properties in Framingham, Fall River, Springfield, Lowell, and Wooster. The South Middlesex Opportunity Counsel owns 113 buildings, which equate to a total of 867 units of affordable housing in 14 communities. These include emergency housing, reentry housing, sober housing, low rent apartments, and even some home-ownership properties. It is estimated that HomeStart and the South Middlesex Opportunity Counsel will serve 400 offenders per year.
 
Funding:
 
The Massachusetts Department of Corrections will receive $1,000,077 from the Department of Justice.
 
For more information, contact:
 
Lisa Jackson
Department of Corrections
(978) 405-6695