The Los Angeles non-profit A new Way of Life (ANWOL) has decided to collaborate with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to help formerly incarcerated people have a smooth reentry into housing and the community.
According to research, many individuals lack stable housing opportunities after being incarcerated and face a higher risk of rearrest and reincarceration. UCLA’s Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies’ Million Dollar Hoods Project reports that in 2016 there “was one houseless arrest for every two houseless people” in Los Angeles compared to 1 arrest out of every 33 people for the total U.S. population. In Bakersfield, CA, there were “22 arrests for each houseless person” compared to “1 arrest for every 25 housed people” in 2017.
Stable housing is both inaccessible for large areas of communities – especially formerly incarcerated individuals – and brings with it a number of deterrent effects regarding incarceration, such as access to privacy and protection from the unreasonable search and seizure of one’s private property. Therefore, stable housing is important since it brings along benefits, such as long-term employment, and being involved in local and national politics.
“A New Way of Life has always recognized the importance of housing and has advocated for the removal of barriers to housing for formerly incarcerated people,” Pamela Marshall, co-director at ANWOL said in a statement.
A New Way of Life looks forward to working with HUD and California Public Housing Authorities to provide stable housing to formerly incarcerated people, and supports HUD’s decision to review “existing HUD policies and regulations that limit access to housing and HUD assistance among people with criminal convictions” and publish “findings regarding best and promising practices on reentry housing.”
Although A New Way of Life supports HUD’s commitment to ensuring that landlords’ denial of housing applicants on the basis of criminal records are not in violation of Fair Housing policies, the organization calls upon state and federal governments to amend the Fair Housing Act to recognize having a criminal record as a protected characteristic.
A New Way of Life is confronting harmful stereotypes and demonstrating that alternatives to incarceration are possible. This non-profit is breaking the cycle of recidivism, repairing families, and developing leaders.
“It was Susan’s (Susan Burton ANOL founder) address to the then director of the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles at the 2011 Long Beach Peace and Justice Summit that spearheaded the Pilot Section 8 Demonstration Reentry Project reuniting formerly incarcerated people with their loved ones already living in the Housing Authority Section 8 subsidized housing program,” Marshall continued.
A New Way of Life has long recognized the importance of stable housing and has been advocating for formerly incarcerated people since its founding in 1998 by Burton.
Last year, ANWOL provided safety and support for 94 women, of whom 82 were mothers of young children. Ninety percent of the women ANWOL has served met benchmarks identified as necessary for successful community reentry, and one of the women was re-incarcerated. ANWOL’s mission is to provide housing and support to formerly incarcerated women for successful community reentry, family reunification, and individual healing, working to restore the civil rights of formerly incarcerated people, and empowering, organizing, and mobilizing formerly incarcerated people as advocates for social change and personal transformation.
Formerly incarcerated people are 10 times more likely to experience homelessness and housing difficulties than the general public and make up to 70 percent of the homeless population. HUD Secretary Fudge agrees that too many people “are caught in a revolving door between homelessness and reincarceration.”
“Housing is a human need and plays a crucial role in the reintegration of formerly incarcerated people into the community. It creates a foundation for stability and prevents recidivism. It’s important for people most affected by the issue to be a part of the solution and work together with the housing agencies to address the housing needs of formerly incarcerated people,” Marshall said.