Oklahoma:  Preventing Homelessness Among Reentering Prisoners

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Best Practice | August 18, 2006

PROTECT-Oklahoma County," the Partnership for Reintegration of Offenders Through Employment and Community Treatment in Oklahoma County, represents a coalition of state and community agencies whose main goal is to reduce recidivism of high-risk young offenders returning to Oklahoma County from the Oklahoma Department of Corrections. PROTECT will provide an aggressive reentry program for each offender, initially providing short-term housing, and developing long-term housing conducive to success in young offenders.
 
Target Population:
 
High-risk offenders aged 18-35 will be targeted in the initiative, including sex offenders who are less "high-risk" to re-offend but are considered violent. It is anticipated that there will be 300 high-risk offenders served over three years, with an estimate of 50-100 offenders requiring housing assistance.
 
Program Description:
 
Housing issues will first be determined when the transition worker, offender, and case correctional manager meet. If the offender does not have proper prospects for housing, a housing application will begin.
The Oklahoma City Housing Authority will reserve a unit of housing at a "complex-rent" building. Six to nine months before the offender's release, transition workers will begin negotiations with the Housing Authority, helping to settle paperwork, advocate for the offender, and resolve other issues. The OKC Housing Authority will work with the offender and the reentry team to work through legislation regarding funding public housing for a felon on a case-by-case basis. The OKC Housing Authority estimates that 90% of ex-offenders are eligible for an exemption.
Housing assistance will come in the form of independent living in scattered site apartments. Rent will be charged based upon the offender's income, either upon release or after securing a job. Even if the serious and violent offenders are not employed, they will still qualify for this housing. The grant will also help pay utilities and rent until the offender is able to independently cover the costs. Since family reunification is emphasized, this housing will be available for offenders and their families.
Funding:
 
The Oklahoma Department of Corrections will receive $1,000,608 from the Department of Justice through the Serious and Violent Offender Reentry Initiative.
 
 
For more information, contact:
Bill McCollum
Oklahoma Dept. of Corrections
(918) 581-2002
For more details regarding housing, contact:
Ed Martin
Oklahoma Weed and Seed
(405) 297-3393