Community Supervision, Housing Insecurity, and Homelessness

AuthorDallas Augustine,Margot Kushel
Published date01 May 2022
Date01 May 2022
Subject MatterPromoting Social Integration: Health, Housing, and Community
152 ANNALS, AAPSS, 701, May 2022
DOI: 10.1177/00027162221113983
Insecurity, and
In recent decades, the United States has seen the
simultaneous rise of mass incarceration and homeless-
ness. The two crises are driven by the same structural
factors and interact with one another, exacerbating
their detrimental effects in a feedback loop. People
under community supervision face many barriers to
housing, putting them at high risk of experiencing
homelessness in the months following release. People
who experience homelessness are at heightened risk of
criminal justice involvement for offenses like violating
the terms of their community supervision as they
engage in survival behaviors in public spaces. This arti-
cle presents evidence-based approaches to improving
housing strategies for reentry populations, preventing
homelessness among those in community supervision,
and rehousing members of the reentry community expe-
riencing homelessness. It concludes with recommenda-
tions for policymakers interested in improving housing
outcomes and overall reentry success for people on
community supervision.
Keywords: reentry; parole; probation; housing policy;
criminal record
In recent decades, the United States witnessed
the simultaneous rise of mass incarceration and
homelessness. The two crises interact with and
worsen one another. The dynamics of mass
Dallas Augustine, PhD, is a postdoctoral fellow with the
Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative at the
University of California, San Francisco. Her research
addresses punishment and inequality, with focuses on
incarceration and other forms of criminal legal contact,
homelessness, and employment.
Margot Kushel, MD, is a professor of medicine at the
University of California, San Francisco, and Director
of the UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations and
the Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative at
Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma
Center. Her research focuses on reducing the burden of
homelessness and housing instability on health.
incarceration and homelessness have disproportionately harmed people of color,
particularly Black Americans, who are overrepresented in prisons and jails and
are more likely to experience homelessness (Pettit and Western 2004; U.S.
Department of Housing and Urban Development [HUD] 2021). In 2018, there
were 6.7 million people across the country under some form of correctional con-
trol; of these, 2.3 million were incarcerated in prisons, jails, and other detention
centers, and 4.5 million adults were on community supervision under probation
or parole (Jones 2018). Although probation and parole usually occur after an
incarceration, people on community supervision who break the rules of their
supervision may be returned to prison or jail. In 2016, approximately 168,000
people were incarcerated for a technical violation of their probation or parole
(i.e., solely for breaking a rule related to their supervision, not for a new crime)
(Kaeble and Cowhig, 2018).
Alongside incarceration rates, homelessness rose dramatically in the United
States since the 1970s and 1980s due to a confluence of factors, including the
declining availability of affordable housing (U.S. Interagency Council on
Homelessness 2019), the increase in income inequality (U.S. Interagency
Council on Homelessness 2019), the ongoing deleterious impacts of structural
racism on access to intergenerational wealth and housing for Black households
(Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority 2018), and the rise of mass incarcera-
tion (The Urban Institute 2020). The last Point-in-Time (PIT) count, an annual
count conducted by HUD, found 580,466 people experiencing homelessness in
the United States on one night in early 2020 (Henry etal., 2021). HUD estimated
that 39 percent of people experiencing homelessness during the PIT count were
unsheltered (e.g., living outdoors, in abandoned buildings, or in vehicles). The
PIT count measures a moment in time and, as such, underestimates the number
of people who experience homelessness over the course of the year.
For every 100 extremely low-income (ELI) households in the United States,1
there are only 37 units of rental housing affordable and accessible (National Low
Income Housing Coalition 2021b). Areas with the highest housing costs tend to
have the lowest availability of ELI housing and the highest prevalence of home-
lessness. The economic disruption associated with the COVID-19 pandemic has
led to increases in households facing potential eviction due to falling behind in
rent (National Low Income Housing Coalition 2021a).
The simultaneous rise in incarceration and homelessness is no coincidence
because each phenomenon exacerbates the other: homelessness is a risk factor
for criminal justice involvement (including incarceration), and criminal justice
involvement (including a history of incarceration) is a risk factor for homeless-
ness (Garcia-Grossman etal. 2021). Formerly incarcerated people are ten times
more likely than the general population to be homeless (Couloute 2018), due to
NOTE: The authors would like to thank Bruce Western and David Harding for the opportu-
nity to contribute to this volume. Thank you to Cheyenne Garcia for assistance with formatting
and Jasmin Sandelson for her feedback on an earlier manuscript draft. This work was sup-
ported by the REFORM Alliance and received additional support from the Benioff
Homelessness and Housing Initiative at the University of California, San Francisco.

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