New report follows recent evaluation of NYCHA’s Family Reentry Program that found it could serve as a national model; together they show the potential for broader policy reforms that both protect and support residents
New York, NY—The Vera Institute of Justice and John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York today released a report evaluating the New York City Housing Authority’s (NYCHA) policy of excluding residents from its developments for criminal activity, also known as permanent exclusion. The report provides recommendations on how NYCHA can improve its policies and practices to maintain public housing safety while helping improve family stability and the successful reentry of people leaving prison and jail.
One strategy used by NYCHA to ensure the safety and security of its residents is to exclude people who have committed a crime from public housing. This can include criminal activity that takes place in NYCHA housing by either residents or visitors, as well as activity that takes place outside of housing by residents. Once permanently excluded from an apartment, former residents and visitors are unable to enter that particular household.
However, NYCHA’s current exclusion policies are broad in nature. Many residents are not aware that exclusions can in fact be lifted if the head of household is in support of doing so and after certain conditions are met that show the risk of new criminal behavior is reduced. This means that more residents may remain excluded from public housing than is necessary for public safety.
To evaluate how permanent exclusion policies could be improved, Vera and John Jay conducted a review of existing policies, interviews with NYCHA staff and residents, and research on risks of reoffending. The report’s recommendations include:
- limiting permanent exclusion policies to focus only on violence or conduct that involves a serious threat to safety;
- defining how people become eligible for lifting permanent exclusions through demonstrating a reduced risk of recidivism or waiting a certain amount of time; and
- clarifying and communicating the process for getting an exclusion lifted.
“We commend NYCHA for its interest in commissioning the report, which will advance what we know about how to help people achieve success after incarceration while keeping communities safe,” said Fred Patrick, director of Vera’s Center on Sentencing and Corrections. “The repercussions for committing a crime can last far longer than the associated incarceration sentence, even though factors such as stable housing are associated with less risk of new criminal activity. We thank NYCHA for its commitment to reevaluating its policies, which will improve the lives of many families.”
“I applaud the New York City Housing Authority for embarking on research to understand the crime challenges NYCHA faces and how current permanent exclusion policies might better contribute to security in the city's public housing,” said Greg “Fritz” Umbach, associate professor at John Jay and co-author of the report. “Modernizing current policies would help residents feel more confident in their relationship with New York City authorities which, studies demonstrate, can help increase cooperation with law enforcement. John Jay College of Criminal Justice is proud to be a partner on this initiative.”
"This partnership is about creating safe and connected public housing communities. It builds on the lessons of NYCHA's Family Reentry Pilot that demonstrates how we can keep residents safe while also offering people second chances. We appreciate our partners' research and look forward to using this report to improve our policies so we can better serve families and the community," said Shola Olatoye, chair and CEO of NYCHA.
Vera has partnered with NYCHA since 2011 as part of the Family Reentry Pilot Program, which reunites formerly incarcerated people with their families in public housing, and recently released an evaluation of the program which found that it could be expanded and replicated as a national model.
About John Jay College: An international leader in educating for justice, John Jay College of Criminal Justice of The City University of New York offers a rich liberal arts and professional studies curriculum to upwards of 15,000 undergraduate and graduate students from more than 135 nations. In teaching, scholarship and research, the College approaches justice as an applied art and science in service to society and as an ongoing conversation about fundamental human desires for fairness, equality and the rule of law. For more information, visit www.jjay.cuny.edu.
About the Vera Institute of Justice: The Vera Institute of Justice is a justice reform change agent. Vera produces ideas, analysis and research that inspire change in the systems people rely upon for safety and justice, and works in close partnership with government and civic leaders to implement it. Vera is currently pursuing core priorities of ending the misuse of jails, transforming conditions of confinement, and ensuring that justice systems more effectively serve America's increasingly diverse communities. For more information, visit www.vera.org.