Opening Doors, Returning Home How Public Housing Authorities Across the Country Are Expanding Access for People with Conviction Histories


People who were formerly incarcerated are 10 times more likely than the general public to be unhoused. Access to stable and affordable housing substantially increases the likelihood that a person returning home from prison or jail will be able to receive support from their family, find and retain employment, rebuild supportive social networks, and avoid additional convictions. One key way to support people with conviction histories is to invest in reentry programs. Vera’s Opening Doors initiative has worked with a range of partners, including public housing authorities, to remove barriers to housing for people with conviction histories. This brief shares examples and lessons gleaned from Vera’s experience that can help other jurisdictions expand housing access for people in reentry.

Key Takeaway

This brief illustrates the change that is possible when housing providers, reentry stakeholders, and other advocates come together to remove barriers to housing for people with conviction histories. When people reentering their communities are housed and supported, the community as a whole is strengthened and public safety is improved.

Publication Highlights

  • Millions of people transition into the community from jails and prisons every year, but face significant obstacles to securing safe, affordable housing.

  • The United States has nearly 3,300 public housing authorities, yet they are often inaccessible resources for people released from incarceration and in need of a safe place to live.

  • The Opening Doors initiative has worked in 12 states with 22 housing authorities and their community partners to effect change in housing policy to improve reentry outcomes and expand housing access.