The Link Between Homeless And Corrections Institutions

The United States has one of the highest incarceration rates in the world. There are multiple contributing factors to these incarceration rates, and one of them is linked to unhoused individuals. There are obstacles people experiencing homelessness face when completing daily tasks like looking for a warm place to sleep at night, looking for public restrooms to use, and loitering to purchase food and other necessities. Some of these obstacles include interactions with law enforcement and being trespassed from businesses.

Individuals with a history of conviction are more likely to experience homelessness and rejection when applying for jobs and housing. Without proper community resources like shelters, rehab facilities, and counseling, many unsheltered people are stuck in a loop of entering and exiting jail cells without ever improving their conditions. Not only is this a problem for people without homes, but it is also very expensive to taxpayers. The number of citations, arrests, and interactions with law enforcement cost taxpayers money.

 There are possible solutions that may be sought after when attempting to tackle the jail to homeless cycle. The traditional approach to fighting the issue of homelessness is looking to resolve other issues involved with being homeless before housing. A Housing First approach has shown promising results in fighting the issue of homelessness. Individuals with stable housing are more likely to have fewer interactions with the justice system as well as figure out certain aspects of their life without having to worry about where they will be sleeping at night. Individuals with good housing stability would now have an address to receive mail, identification cards, and a higher chance of receiving employment. Housing is used as a foundation in which individuals experiencing homelessness will use to solve other issues they may be facing.  

There are two common Housing First approaches that work in different ways, the supportive housing approach, and the rapid-rehousing approach. The supportive housing approach is more of a long-term approach for individuals who have struggled due to disabilities, drug abuse, and mental disorders. Rapid rehousing is more of a short-term solution that is meant to get families or individuals housed quickly. 

According to the National Alliance To End Homelessness individuals who use services like the Housing First approach are more likely to participate in job training programs, attend schools and discontinue substance abuse. Not only does the housing first approach help individuals experiencing homelessness, but it can also help reduce the cost to taxpayers and communities. Individuals who are housed cost less to taxpayers due to fewer interactions with law enforcement and are less likely to use emergency services than those who are homeless. By implementing the Housing First approach many individuals and families affected by the homelessness to jail cycle will have a chance to drastically improve their conditions.

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