Reductions in Recidivism through Permanent Supportive Housing

Reductions in Recidivism through Permanent Supportive Housing
Jocelyn Fontaine
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The Returning Home—Ohio pilot program (RHO), implemented from 2007 to 2009 through a partnership of the Ohio prison system, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, and the Corporation for Supportive Housing, provided permanent supportive housing to disabled individuals at risk of homelessness after release from state prison. Disabilities were typically mental/behavioral health or alcohol/drug abuse. RHO’s core goals were to reduce recidivism and housing instability among released prisoners. Supportive housing models offered under the program included single-site and scattered-site models. The pilot offered fewer housing units than the expected eligible population, allowing for a quasi-experimental evaluation with a treatment and comparison group. The results of the evaluation, conducted by the Urban Institute, were published in Cityscape.

Major findings:

  • Individuals who participated in the RHO permanent supportive housing program were 40 percent less likely to be rearrested and 61 percent less likely to be reincarcerated within one year than the comparison group.
  • RHO participants were 43 percent less likely to be rearrested on a misdemeanor—a result that was statistically significant. There was not a statistically significant difference, however, on felony rearrests.
  • Among RHO participants, men, nonwhites, those with more prior incarcerations, those who served shorter sentences, and those not under postrelease supervision were more likely to be rearrested.
  • Rearrests were lower among those whose primary disability was mental illness.
  • Rearrests were higher among those with substance abuse and personality disorder diagnoses. The study did not clarify whether the supportive housing model, the population’s challenges, or some other factor explained the higher rate of rearrest among this subpopulation.
  • The recidivism reduction for RHO participants compared with other released prisoners suggests that permanent supportive housing could reduce recidivism, improve housing stability, and provide future cost savings for correctional institutions.