THE NEED(S)

On any given night, 10,249 people (or 9 of every 10,000 people) in Ohio are homeless [1], but creating a stable life without the security of a home is a near impossibility, especially for persons with a criminal record. This is a principal reason why policy trends during the past 5 years have attempted to move away from temporary, or transitional, housing in favor of more permanent solutions. During this same period of time, Ohio’s data showed a steady increase in the number of families and individuals experiencing homelessness, and the Covid-19 pandemic significantly worsened the situation.

‘Housing’ is considered one of the most difficult needs to be met for individuals returning to public society post-prison, but THOR argues that it is the most difficult need, surpassing even the need for employment. Among the subpopulation of formerly incarcerated people, the rate of homelessness is ten times that of the general population [2], owing in part to an insufficient number of affordable dwellings, the rationing of social services, legalized disadvantages (such as ineligibility for social benefits), and policies that criminalize homelessness and create employment barriers. These unique risk factors also—and directly—impact crime rates and recidivism, commonly referred to as the ‘revolving door’ of prison [3]. The “affordability” problem is compounded because it leaves those with criminal records competing against those without criminal records for the same limited resources.

The second need is more general. According to the 2017 results of the Joint Center for Housing Studies, 82.8 percent of renters and 83.8 percent of homeowners were 'housing cost burdened' (paying greater than 30 percent of income for housing costs), while 71.7 percent and 67.9 percent, respectively, were severely cost burdened (paying greater than 50 percent of income for housing costs) [4]. Needless to say, the Covid-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the problem of people finding or maintaining safe, affordable and secure residences

[1] “Ohio,” National Alliance to End Homelessness, accessed November 21, 2020, https://endhomelessness.org/homelessness-in-america/homelessness-statistics/stateof-homelessness-report/ohio/. 

[2] Lucius Couloute, “Nowhere to Go: Homelessness Among Formerly Incarcerated People,” Prison Policy Initiative, August 2018, 1. 

[3] A phrase used to describe the phenomenon of repeated returns to prison: A crime is committed, the person is arrested, spends time in prison, is released…commits another crime (i.e. failure to establish employment or find housing according to probation requirements), the person is arrested again, spends time in prison, is released…commits another ‘crime’…and so on. 

[4] “Housing Perspectives: Research, Trends and Perspective,” Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, accessed November 23, 2020, https://www.jchs.harvard.edu/blog/more-than-a-third-of-american-households-werecost-burdened-last-year.