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MacArthur, Urban Institute Start Program To Aid Ex-Inmate Housing

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Urban Institute launched the Just Home Project, a program designed to "advance community-driven efforts to break the link between housing instability and jail incarceration." Charleston County, S.C., Minnehaha County, S.D., the city and county of San Francisco, and Tulsa County, Ok., will get funding from MacArthur to create a plan for addressing this crisis in their community with technical assistance and coordination from Urban. Each community is eligible to receive an investment from a MacArthur $15 million pool of funding to acquire or develop housing for populations that are not being served by current housing resources.

One in four people had periods of homelessness in the year before their incarceration, and the problem has worsened due to the pandemic. Ex-inmates face significant barriers to finding and maintaining stable housing. Incarceration can lead to job loss or other financial problems that threaten their ability to pay for housing. People with a history of justice system involvement have limited access to housing assistance through government programs and often face discriminatory screening practices when applying for housing. Experiencing chronic homelessness can increase the chances that a person becomes involved with the justice system due to the criminalization of sleeping, sitting, and asking for money or resources in public spaces. “People of color continue to be disproportionately harmed by contact with the criminal justice system and housing instability—these disparities became increasingly pronounced during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Kelly Walsh of the Urban Institute's Research to Action Lab and Justice Policy Center.


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