Returning Home

Ending the cycle of homelessness and criminal justice involvement through supportive housing

Dates of Project: February 2006 through May 2014

Description: Returning Home, a project of the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH), developed a model of supportive housing for people who been incarcerated, and has encouraged its replication across the country. The target population often has a history of serious mental illness, substance abuse, or both; and has cycled repeatedly through jails, homeless shelters, emergency rooms, and other public systems. Returning Home can break this cycle. In addition to increasing the availability of dedicated supportive housing, Returning Home advocated for policy changes that will help to embed the model more widely.

“Supportive housing is bridging—it is bridging services and housing. We have always had housing over here and services other there and they have not worked as effectively as when we combine them.”—Nancy Barrand, MPA, RWJF senior adviser for program development

Key Results

The Corporation for Supportive Housing has:

  • Facilitated the creation of 1,500 new units of supportive housing for formerly incarcerated individuals through Returning Home, as of December 2014. Most of the re-entry supportive housing units are in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York.

  • Provided technical assistance and other support to expand re-entry supportive housing. Eighteen communities across the country, as of December 2014, have developed programs based on a model called Frequent Users Service Enhancement (FUSE) Initiative first used in New York City.

  • Advocated for strategies to diminish the regulatory and administrative barriers that interfere with expanding supportive housing for the Returning Home population. An example is encouraging public housing authorities to reconsider their ban on providing housing subsidies to individuals who have been in jail.

    Evaluations of three local Returning Home initiatives—in New York, Ohio, and Washington showed reduced homelessness and recidivism, and lower costs within the criminal justice system.

“We have consistently shown significant reductions in homelessness, recidivism, and projected cost avoidance or cost savings in the criminal justice system.”—Andy McMahon, MPA, managing director, government affairs and innovations, CSH