New HUD Funding Enables Review of Pilot Program to Help Families Reunite in Public Housing

Evaluation to Look at Merits of Program for Formerly Incarcerated Individuals and Their Families

NEW YORK – Newly received federal support will allow the Vera Institute of Justice (Vera) to test the efficacy of an innovative yet straightforward attempt to solve one of the biggest challenges facing people leaving prison and jail in New York and across the nation—namely, how to secure stable housing and reunite with supportive family members.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), through its Research Partnerships Grant Program, is funding Vera to undertake an evaluation of the Family Re-entry Pilot Program. The pilot is a collaborative effort among the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), the New York City Department of Homeless Services (DHS), the Corporation for Supportive Housing, and Vera. The program is also supported by funding from DHS and the Tiger Foundation.
Discretionary policies to exclude people who have been involved in the criminal justice system affect a large number of public housing residents. The two-year pilot program, which is still accepting applications, aims to safely connect 150 eligible people leaving prison and jail with family members living in public housing.
Through comprehensive re-entry support, the pilot seeks to show that formerly incarcerated people can:
• successfully reunite with family members;
• stay drug-free, secure employment, and keep from returning to crime; and
• be as compliant with lease regulations as households where there is no member with a criminal record.

“Opening doors to formerly incarcerated men and women—literally and figuratively—is an essential component to successful re-entry,” said Vera President Nicholas Turner. “This evaluation will show us where this pilot is succeeding and where adjustments need to be made. We are grateful that HUD has seen value in this effort. We believe that the lessons learned here can have a positive impact on families and communities across the country.”
"This pilot speaks to the needs of many of our residents and their loved ones. Reconnecting with families, for some, is often the first step toward stability and the potential for a better future,” said NYCHA Chair and CEO Shola Olatoye.
“This pilot program furthers the city’s commitment to preventing homelessness and addressing housing inequality,” said DHS Commissioner Gilbert Taylor. “Reuniting family members in public housing will ensure continued structure and provide the resources necessary for formerly incarcerated individuals to rebuild their lives.”

A group of leading nonprofit providers deliver intensive case management services to create the stability needed to help participants.
Vera will conduct focus groups and interviews with pilot participants, their families, pilot staff, and service providers to assess the pilot’s design and implementation, determine how many people leaving prisons and jails might be interested in returning to public housing and have also had contact with DHS, evaluate services provided, and explore suggestions for improvement. Vera will also determine the pilot’s impact on recidivism and compliance with NYCHA’s lease requirements during the two years of the pilot program. The study is also designed to help build evidence around the pilot’s applicability to housing authorities across the country.
Beyond housing, the evaluation of the pilot will provide valuable information about the types of supportive services necessary to help people successfully return to their families while improving their quality of life. This information has implications for re-entry service providers, supportive housing providers, and homeless service providers who want to help move clients into stable housing.
To learn more about the pilot, its benefits, eligibility requirements, participating nonprofits, and how to apply, please visit NYCHA’s website.
More information on this pilot and other efforts to expand access to public housing for formerly incarcerated individuals can be found on Vera’s Critical Thinking Blog.