Disrupting Poverty in Philly with Housing Help for People Returning from Prison



WHYY: Michelle Little - February 27, 2021


As we reimagine ways to disrupt poverty and achieve racial equity in Philadelphia and across the U.S., one key is making sure people have a stable place to return home after incarceration.


Philadelphia has the highest incarceration rate of any big city in the country, according to the city’s Office of Criminal Justice, as well as the highest poverty rate among major cities and a growing affordable housing crisis.


These facts have a lot to do with one another. The reentry system locally and nationally is fraught with disconnected systems that offer formerly incarcerated individuals few resources to meet their desired goals. Individuals are often required to do things like obtaining gainful employment and secure housing, despite the fact that increased background checks and technology advancements mean even a minor criminal record can negatively affect a person’s ability to obtain employment, housing, and transportation or further their education. This disconnect often leads to longer periods of supervision and re-incarceration.


But rather than a punitive approach that further penalizes a person for having a record on top of the punishment they have already served, what if we looked for ways to remove barriers for returning citizens and help individuals build assets that could set them up for success in their lives after returning home?


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