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Criminal Legal System Initiative

Homelessness and the Criminal Legal System

True public safety requires that everyone have access to safe, stable housing. As the criminalization of poverty and homelessness persists in our country, so does the cycle of people between the criminal legal system and homelessness. In the United States, formerly incarcerated individuals are nearly 10 times more likely to experience homelessness than the general population. Rates of homelessness among formerly incarcerated people are especially high for Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color, as well as women.

Seeking to disrupt the cyclical relationship between homelessness, housing instability, and the criminal legal system, Homebase launched the Criminal Legal System Initiative (CLSI) to deepen cross-sector partnerships and expand mutual awareness and collaboration. The CLSI’s goal is to improve outcomes for those impacted by the criminal legal system, decrease system-involvement through housing solutions, improve public safety outcomes, and reduce strain on public resources.

Our work is staffed by a team of housing and criminal legal system experts who collaborate with an expansive network of community partners, including individuals with lived experience of homelessness and/or the criminal legal system. We use our multidisciplinary expertise to help partners bridge gaps between systems, encouraging deeper collaboration across all relevant sectors to ensure that homelessness and housing insecurity are no longer drivers of incarceration and social injustice.

Selected Homebase Resources and Tools

Opening Doors: Equity and Access for People on the Sex Offense Registry

  • Homebase organized a panel at the 2022 Housing California conference about increasing housing access for people on the California sex offense registry, and the recording is available here. The panel included experts from a public defender’s office, a housing program, and a healthcare foundation. Panelists discussed assumptions and myths about the registry, removal from the registry, cross-system partnerships to provide housing for people on the registry, and creative strategies for people on the registry to find housing.

Cross-System Action Labs

  • In August 2022, the CLSI hosted a cross-system Action Lab to deepen partnerships between local Continuums of Care (CoC) and criminal legal system entities to address homelessness and housing instability among  people impacted by the criminal legal system. Participants from three California counties identified key challenges and learned about effective strategies from other jurisdictions. The summary and key takeaways can be found here and the CLSI looks forward to continuing these Action Labs in 2023.

Housing First for Formerly Incarcerated People

  • Homebase gave this presentation at the 2022 Housing First Partners Conference about applying Housing First principles to meeting the housing needs of formerly incarcerated people. The presentation highlighted community programs from our report No Bars to Home, emphasized key elements of successful housing programs serving these populations, and led a discussion on how to create and maintain cross-system partnerships.

Common Obstacles & Creative Approaches to Meeting Housing Needs of People who were Incarcerated

  • In January 2023, the CLSI hosted a cross-system webinar on how to overcome common obstacles communities face when trying to meet the housing needs of
    people who have been incarcerated. Webinar panelists included housing providers, public safety partners, and people with lived experience incarceration from across
    California. These experts have implemented creative solutions to respond to this urgent community need. They represent some of the programs highlighted in Homebase’s report, No Bars to Home: Meeting the Housing Needs of People Impacted by the Criminal Legal System. 

Partnership Action Lab


  • Homebase’s Criminal Legal System Initiative invites leaders from homelessness response and public defender’s systems to jointly apply to our new Partnership Action Lab (PAL). PAL is open to co-applicant pairs of leaders who are interested in identifying holistic case management strategies that leverage the resources of both systems.

Please see the call for applications for more information, dates, and details. Co- applicant pairs of homeless system and public defender leaders interested in participating in this Action Lab series must complete the joint online application form by March 29, 2024, at 5:00 pm PST. There is no cost to participate in this series. 

If you have any questions, please first review our Frequently Asked Questions and reach out with remaining questions to

Public Housing Authority Peer Cohort

The Criminal Legal System Initiative invites Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) across the U.S. to participate in a new Peer Learning Cohort which will focus on increasing access to Housing Choice Vouchers (HCVs) for people who have criminal records and are on the path to rebuilding their lives and reconnecting with their communities.


Participants will receive:

  • Homebase’s assessment of existing Administrative Plans and other HCV admissions policies to help identify areas for revision.

  • Homebase’s assistance revising policies and procedures to align with HUD’s increasing focus on expanding access to housing for people with criminal records.

  • Access to the shared wisdom and experiences of other PHAs implementing similar changes.

  • Six hours of workshops in a confidential learning environment.

  • Support developing implementation plans, including help addressing community concerns and overcoming other barriers to amending these policies.

Participation in the Housing Authority Peer Cohort requires a commitment to attending all three two-hour monthly virtual workshops and approximately 5 hours of outside work or “homework” in between each workshop. More than one staffer per HA can participate, however at least one staffer from each HA should commit to attend all three workshops to gain maximum benefit. 

Click here to apply!

The deadline for applying to the Cohort is May 31, 2024. Up to six PHAs will be selected to participate in the cohort. The total cost is $4,800 for each PHA to participate. PHAs that are interested in participating but are concerned about this fee should still reach out to the Criminal Legal System Initiative at to discuss funding options. 


Check out our flyer for additional details about this opportunity!

Presentations and other Technical Assistance

Criminal Legal System Initiative Areas of Focus

Cross-Sector Workshops and Fostering Partnerships

Visioning, Planning, Troubleshooting, and Implementation

Curated Tools and Resources

Peer-to-Peer Learning and Community Building


We would love to talk with you:

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