Three different homes

From the perspective of probationers and parolees, housing is one of the most important need domains.  Stable housing allows families to live together.  Stable housing also allows probationers and parolees to find and hold a job. Inadequate housing, on the other hand, often leads to negative outcomes for formerly incarcerated people.  One study conducted in New York found that formerly incarcerated individuals who lived in shelters were seven times more likely to abscond than those who had adequate housing (National Reentry Resource Center, n.d.).
Yet, finding long-term affordable housing presents an acute challenge for probationers and parolees living in Santa Clara County.  Santa Clara County has the highest median rent in the nation (US Census Bureau, 2010).  This high cost of living disproportionately affects poor families.  According to Catholic Charities, one out of four households has to choose between paying rent, buying food, or paying for health care because of the very high cost of housing in Santa Clara County.
Many formerly incarcerated individuals are released from custody with little or no income.  This makes it very hard to secure affordable, long-term housing.  Santa Clara County has a shortage of affordable housing possibilities, and the waiting lists are extremely long.  In addition, federal guidelines limit housing possibilities for some formerly incarcerated individuals with drug-related offenses from obtaining low-income housing, and many private affordable housing market providers will likely screen out recent formerly incarcerated individuals.  There is also a shortage of transitional housing units for formerly incarcerated individuals and their families in Santa Clara County, especially if the children are over the age of 6.
Data from the Santa Clara County Probation Department show that a significant number of moderate- and high-risk probationers have some instability in their housing or have unstable housing:

  • A little more than half (57.6%) of the respondents reported stable housing.
  • Almost one quarter (24.7%) of the respondents reported some instability with housing.
  • Nearly one fifth (17.7%) of the respondents reported unstable housing.
    Moreover, women, African Americans, and high-risk probationers were more likely to have unstable housing.  When data is disaggregated by risk level, 27% of high-risk probationers have unstable housing compared with 7% of low-risk probationers.  Similarly, 36% of high-risk probationers have moved more than twice in the last year compared with 11% of low-risk probationers.

To improve short- and long-term affordable housing for formerly incarcerated individuals who are at moderate or high-risk of recidivating in Santa Clara County.

  1. Ensure housing-focused discharge planning prior to release.
  2. Develop pre-release plans that realistically address the housing needs of individuals.
  3. Offer peer-driven case management and supports to facilitate transition process.
  4. Remove any barriers to affordable housing. 




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