Public housing authorities across the nation historically have barred many with criminal records from public housing residency. However, given evidence of the critical role stable housing and family reunification plays for people coming back to their communities from incarceration, some housing authorities are rethinking their practices. This report evaluates the Family Reentry Pilot Program (FRPP), launched in November 2013 by the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) in partnership with city and state corrections agencies, the New York City Department of Homeless Services, and intermediaries including Vera and the Corporation for Supportive Housing. FRPP reunites formerly incarcerated men and women with their families in public housing and partners with community organizations to offer participants reentry services. Vera interviewed participants, family members, and staff from partner organizations to explore the program’s effects on participants’ and family members’ lives and understand the strengths and weaknesses of the program's components. The research also produced first-ever estimates of people returning from incarceration who are affected by NYCHA’s admission policies.
Public housing agencies such as NYCHA, partnering with reentry organizations and other criminal justice stakeholders, can support people with criminal records and have positive effects on formerly incarcerated people and their families.
Vera researchers found that effective collaboration between NYCHA, reentry service providers, and corrections agencies was crucial to helping the pilot’s participants gain stable housing and reconnect with their families, as well as to accomplish other goals such as securing work and continuing their education.
The study revealed that participants reuniting with their families both received support and supported others as they took on familial roles, especially as caregivers for elderly parents.
The evaluation showed that one of the major obstacles to increasing the pilot’s enrollment were public housing residents’ distrust of NYCHA’s intentions and fear that the program would make them vulnerable to eviction.
Of the 85 participants who were accepted into the program at the time of the evaluation, only one has been convicted of a new criminal charge.
Almost 50 percent of the interviewed participants stated they would be homeless living in a shelter, or living in other transitional housing if they were not accepted into the FRPP.
Vera researchers estimated that at least 500 people returning home from prison to New York City each year can benefit from an expanded program.
NYCHA Family Reentry Pilot
Reuniting Families in New York City Public Housing
This two-year pilot program aims to help formerly incarcerated people by reuniting them with their families in public housing. The program builds on the growing nationwide momentum to ease public housing bans on people with criminal convictions. In this first phase, 150 people wishing to live in public housing—all of whom have been released from a ...
Innovative Reentry Practices for Incarcerated People Coming Home
For an incarcerated person, leaving prison can be both exhilarating and overwhelming: freedom is finally palpable. But, for over 700,000 people leaving prisons and jails annually, the pressure of finding a home is an immediate and paramount strain. The mark of a past criminal record eliminates many housing possibilities precisely at the moment when...
Public Housing for People with Criminal Histories
Stable housing is essential to supporting a formerly incarcerated person’s successful return to his or her community. Until recently, however, most public housing authorities throughout the country have prevented formerly incarcerated people from formally returning to their homes or living with family members in public housing. In response to this ...