Sacramento—Assemblymember Isaac G. Bryan (D-54, Los Angeles) is the author behind a landmark bill seeking a holistic approach to reentry housing for the formerly incarcerated who often bear the brunt of housing inequality. This bill addresses the challenge of homelessness head on: at the intersection of homelessness and incarceration.
“We need to get people the resources and services they need. We need to do this with as much compassion and understanding, and we need to do it now,” said Assemblymember Bryan. “The intersection of the criminal legal system and housing insecurity is costly in many ways. We know that in Los Angeles alone, we spend about $70 million per year in incarceration costs on individuals trapped in the homelessness-jail cycle. If we really care about people being unhoused then we have to do a better job of making sure people have a place to live after they are released from incarceration.”
Over 30,000 people will be released on parole or early release each year over the next five years, and several state prisons may be closing. The link between homelessness and incarceration is clear – the majority of formerly incarcerated people experienced housing insecurity or homelessness prior to their incarceration. AB-1816 will help prevent those just released from incarceration – often the most critical moment – from falling into this cycle after coming home. This bill will help ensure inmates returning to their communities have stable housing, help keep recidivism rates lower, and work to ensure housing insecurity is eased in underserved communities. Study after study shows that supportive housing – and a job! – are far more cost-effective than incarceration. Investing in reentry housing and workforce development will result in significant savings for the state and real economic mobility.
“Californians coming home from prison need effective housing solutions that create pathways towards long-term economic stability,” said Mari Castaldi, Senior Legislative Advocate, Housing CA. “AB 1816 provides a coordinated, strategic approach that protects people who were formerly incarcerated falling through the cracks in our homeless response systems by investing in person-centered, evidence-based programs at a broader scale.”
Tina Rosales, Policy Advocate, Western Center on Law & Poverty added: “In the midst of California’s declining prison population, anticipation of more prison closures, and yet another significant budget surplus, it’s time for the state to responsibly divert money from the prison system to support living-wage employment for formerly incarcerated people and to reduce homelessness. Homelessness and incarceration are inherently linked – 70% of people experiencing homelessness in California have a history of incarceration. We must ensure that all Californians have access to safe, stable, and affordable housing regardless of their history with the criminal legal system.”
“The criminal justice system often exacerbates homelessness and when people leave incarceration, they should not have to worry about where they’re going to sleep next. As one of California's largest nonprofit homeless service providers, we know the extra barriers justice-involved people face when seeking housing and stability,” said Jennifer Hark Dietz, CEO of PATH. "Our successful reentry program in San Diego County proves what we already know: housing keeps everyone safe. PATH is honored to cosponsor this important legislation and we thank Assemblymember Bryan for his vision and leadership."
“Discrimination in our justice system and housing markets have created barriers that further inequities among individuals experiencing homelessness,” said Sharon Rappaport, Director of California State Policy at the Corporation for Supportive Housing. “Data show that people on parole are about 10 times more likely to experience homelessness than the general public, and have greater difficulties accessing housing and employment. Providing formerly incarcerated individuals experiencing homelessness, with a stable, affordable place to live, along with services that promote housing stability and employment, will reduce recidivism. As a co-sponsor of AB 1816, CSH is thrilled to be working with Assemblymember Isaac Bryan and his staff on this bill and we applaud his leadership as he continues to advocate for ending the prison-to-street pipeline.
“People returning to their community after incarceration aspire towards a productive life, but often don't have the support they need and struggle to connect with needed resources,” added Keith Arvinvine, a community leader with Residents United Network. “The $200 given to them as they leave runs out quickly. Another difficulty they face is discrimination when trying to secure housing in this competitive rental market. A Reentry Housing & Workforce Development Program that offers stable, permanent housing and connections to good jobs could be transformative.”
Co-Authors AB-1816 include Assemblymember Ash Kalra (D-San Jose), Joint Author; Senator Henry Stern (D-Los Angeles), Principal Co-Author; Senator Josh Becker (D-Peninsula), Assemblymembers Wendy Carrillo (D-Los Angeles), Luz Rivas (D-San Fernando), Robert Rivas (D-Salinas), and Mark Stone (D-Monterey Bay).