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Criminal Legal System Initiative

For regular updates and resources, join the CLSI Newsletter

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. 

Bridging Boundaries Action Lab Call for Applications


  • Homebase’s Criminal Legal System Initiative invites leaders from homelessness response systems and parole and probation agencies to jointly apply to our new Action Lab series: Bridging Boundaries. The Bridging Boundaries Action Lab is open to co-applicant pairs of leaders who are interested in increasing housing stability for individuals experiencing homelessness while on probation or parole.   


  • Please see the call for applications for more information, dates, and details. Co- applicant pairs of homeless system and parole and probation leaders interested in participating in this Action Lab series must complete the joint online application form by September 15, 2023, at 5:00 pm PST. There is no cost to participate in this series. 


CLE webinar series: Preserving Housing & Preventing Homelessness for People with Criminal Charges and Convictions


  • In collaboration with the California Office of the State Public Defender, CLSI presents a free three-part CLE series for public defenders and criminal defense attorneys. At each stage of a criminal proceeding, people accused of crimes face potential consequences that may put their current housing or ability to obtain future subsidized housing at risk. This webinar series provides foundational information about the homeless system of care, risks to housing loss prior to conviction, and navigating reentry housing with a criminal record. Each one-hour CLE requires separate registration and is approved for credit by the California State Bar. CLEs are open exclusively to staff and contractors of California Public Defender Offices and California-licensed criminal defense attorneys. Please see here for more information.

Action Lab Ancor
CLE Webinar 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


We would love to talk with you:

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