Washington:  Preventing Homelessness Among Reentering Prisoners


Best Practice | August 18, 2006

Washington's reentry initiative, "Housing High Risk Offenders: A Partnership for Community Safety," was created to address the lack of affordable and stable housing for the highest risk sex and dangerously mentally ill offenders.
Target Population:
The initiative will target sex offenders and dangerous mentally ill offenders because these populations have the greatest difficulty securing stable housing and can present significant risks to the community.
Program Description:
The Department of Corrections, with the support of legislators, the governor, attorney general and other state departments including Department of Social and Health Services, Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Department of Community, Trade, and Economic Development, initiated a collaborative process in 2002 with the stated goal of promoting greater community safety through increased access to housing with appropriate supervision and support services.
The new collaboration, the Partnership for Community Safety, includes decision makers and key staff representing state and local officials, Department of Corrections, Department of Social and Health Services, Department of Community, Trade, and Economic Development, Department of Housing and Urban Development, local law enforcement, courts, victims advocates, family advocates, private for profit and nonprofit treatment providers, supporting service providers, and faith-based organizations.
The Partnership recommendations are based on two fundamental concepts:
Safe return of offenders to the community requires multi-system collaboration with stable housing at its hub.
For significant process to be made, initial efforts must be focused on two tipping points:
Increasing the willingness of landlords to house high-risk offenders
Increasing the willingness of the community to accept high-risk offenders.
A key strategy identified by the Partnership is to create pilot projects to demonstrate and evaluate successful local approaches to implementing the Partnership's recommendations. Up to four pilots are suggested for development in urban areas and at least one rural area of the state. Pilots will be developed locally with the support of federal, state and private sector resources. Partnership members are committed to ongoing evaluation and improvement of these efforts. An outcome-based evaluation is described in the implementation suggestions.
The complete text of Washington State's Report on Housing High Risk Offenders and Dangerously Mentally Ill Offenders: A Partnership for Community Safety, can be accessed at http://www.wa.gov/doc/CPP/cpp3.htm.
The Partnership for Community Safety receives Transition Funding from the Department of Corrections for housing. The Serious and Violent Offender Reentry Initiative funding will go toward short-term (90 days) reentry housing, as a supplement to this program
For More Information, Contact:
Victoria Roberts
Department of Corrections