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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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