It can be difficult to leave prison. It’s possible for things to look very different once it’s time for you to get out.
Housing is just one of many changes that must be made upon release. Other challenges for ex-inmates include adjusting to civilian life, finding work, and finally, freedom.
A safe place to live is the number one priority after you are released from prison. If you have a criminal history, finding a place to sleep may be difficult. There are many resources that can help you make the first steps towards a normal lifestyle by offering safe, affordable, and secure housing.
Former inmates are now homeless
There are approximately five millions Americans who were once in prison. Research shows that these individuals are 10 times more likely than the average citizen to become homeless.
Certain individuals are more vulnerable to homelessness. Homelessness is twice as common for people who have been incarcerated multiplely than those who were only held in one prison sentence. Homelessness is more common in people of color and women. It is possible to experience homelessness before you are in prison. Up to 15% of those imprisoned experienced homelessness within the first year.
For recently released prisoners who require a safe and secure place to stay, homeless shelters can provide a great support. Many people who are not able to support themselves or have no family relationships have suffered from undiagnosed mental illness, drug or alcohol addiction, and repeat criminal behavior.
Numerous studies have shown the importance family in reintegration into society. However, extended prison stays can also impact the relationships between family members. Some relationships can be irreparable, leaving those in prison unable to return home with no options but to live on the streets.
There are many housing options
Many resources are available to assist former prisoners and recently released inmates who require safe housing after their release.
Officials acknowledge that it can be difficult for inmates who have been released from prison to adjust to a more free society.
- A recovery residence is also known as a halfwayhouse. This type of temporary housing was specifically created to assist recently released inmates. This is not a permanent housing solution. It can be required as a condition for release or parole. Residents must adhere to house rules during their stay. This includes living a crime-free life and not violating parole. The rent at a rehabilitation residence is typically between $450 to $750 per month depending on where you live.
The homeless shelter is a temporary type of housing that can be used for emergencies. This is not a long-term solution. A New York study showed that people in emergency shelters are more likely to be reincarcerated compared with those who find other shelters. Some states, such as Illinois and Hawaii, do not consider homeless shelters to be approved parole residences.
Staying with friends or family
While in prison, it can be difficult to maintain family and social relationships. These relationships will suffer if one is in prison for a longer period of time. For recently released prisoners, friends and family can provide the best housing options. This is also a preferred option for parole officers who need stable housing.
Housing for the government
Federal support is also available in the form permanent supportive Housing (PSH). These programs, which are funded typically by the federal Housing and Urban Department, are a type of housing subsidy that is created to help vulnerable homeless people. Professional support services are also available to support parolees in housing support. PSH programs generally require that parolees return to housing support within 90 days of release. However, terms can vary.
Rapid Rehousing Another form of government housing is available, but it uses a different approach. Rapid rehousing provides former inmates with their own dwellings, instead of group accommodation. A case manager is available to assist with any rental or management needs for up to 2 years.
Options for financial support
You may find it difficult to find housing if you have little money when you get out of prison. There are many financial assistance programs that can help you pay the bills and get you back on track.
Assistance from the government
Multiple programs that benefit ex-inmates are offered by the federal government offer some assistance.
The Temporary Aid for Needy Families program, which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS), was created to provide financial assistance to low income families via a cash grant monthly. For felons who have children and are unable to provide financial assistance, this grant may be available. Payments can be used to pay for rent, food, utilities and transportation. TANF offers assistance in every state through programs.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service offers the Supplemental Nutrition Aid Program (SNAP). SNAP was established to ensure that Americans don’t go hungry. It offers food stamps to help people get food at a reduced cost or free of charge. These benefits can be obtained via an Electronic Benefit Transfer card (EBT), which you can use at authorized retailers as a debit card. SNAP benefits may also allow shelter deductions for fuel, electricity, water, and phones. You should check your eligibility to determine if you meet the income requirements.
Federal funding is also available for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. It provides energy assistance for low-income residents to keep warm in winter and cool in summer. LIHEAP can also help with minor repairs or energy-related issues. LIHEAP can help with weatherization costs in order to avoid future severe weather-related damage.
If you are unable to afford rent, HUD can provide housing assistance. Public housing is available for renters with low income who cannot afford to rent due to rising rent costs. Housing Choice Voucher Program (also known as section 8) can offer reduced or free rent at a rental you choose.
You may also be eligible for assistance if you live in privately-owned subsidized housing. HUD provides assistance to landlords to pass these savings on to low-income renters through monthly discounted rent.
When behind bars it is almost impossible to pay your financial obligations. This can leave you with months of unpaid rent and utilities. Many inmates discover that their car coverage is no longer valid and that their credit scores are dramatically lower than the amount of unpaid bills.
Rebuilding credit can be a common way for inmates to obtain permanent future housing. However, there are some things that you can do to make it easier.
- Your credit score.
You need to know your current situation before you can determine what you should do. To ensure that there are no errors in your report, you can check your credit score .
- Pay off your debts.
Once you have a clear understanding of your debt, you can begin to pay it off. Aim for a low credit utilization and a debt-to-income ratio between 70 and 30.
- Register for a bank account
Open an account and find the right bank to meet your needs. This will enable you to make regular payments for things such as car insurance, so that your credit score doesn’t get affected by late payments.
- Apply for a Credit Card
Credit cards are a great way to build credit if you pay your bills on time and maintain a low credit utilization. You can apply for a secured card if you don’t have the credit score to be approved on your own. This secured credit card uses collateral to protect your credit line.
Family harmony requires healthy boundaries
It can be difficult to adapt to civilian life after a long time being in prison. When you are separated from your normal society for a prolonged period of time, there is much to be learned and reconnected with. When a person is bombarded with new technologies and social media, it can become overwhelming and stressful.
Your family will likely be a huge support system after your release. They can also provide affordable, stable, and secure housing to help you fulfill your parole terms. Your family will help you adjust but it is important that you do everything you can to make this transition easier for all involved.
Shelter can be a lifeline for many newly released prisoners when it is offered by a family member. It will take some time to get used to, despite your best efforts. Respect your host and don’t overstep boundaries. To make the transition smoother, help out whenever you can and remain respectful.
Your family is also going through an adjustment phase as you adjust. Your loved ones may have to deal with some stigmas that can impact the family. Keep your family together by being positive, staying out of trouble and avoiding conflict that could impact the household’s dynamic. To create a healthy, secure environment for everyone involved, you must all work together.
Respect the house rules
You must adhere to the house rules, regardless of what you are used to. You may not be allowed to stay up late or drink alcohol. You must remember that you are an intruder in another person’s home. You are being graciously invited to stay with them. It is important that you respect the rules and behave well around other household members.
Do not be afraid to have tough conversations
The new housing arrangement will likely be a work-in-progress for all parties. It is normal to go through an adjustment period as you adjust to new people. Many ex-inmates have experienced extreme stress, depression, anger and even insomnia while adjusting to the outside world.
Openly listen to your family members’ concerns. To make the home as pleasant as possible for all, communicate openly and express gratitude to your hosts.