|Posted:||March 21, 2023 08:59 AM|
|From:||Senator Nikil Saval|
|To:||All Senate members|
|Subject:||Fair Chance Housing|
|Every year, some 650,000 formerly incarcerated Americans complete their sentences and return from prison, ready to begin the process of rebuilding their lives—for themselves, their loved ones, and their communities.
However, upon reentry, formerly incarcerated people face considerable barriers to education, employment, and housing. Nearly 50,000 federal, state, and municipal laws limit access to basic, vital resources for those who are re-entering society. Among people who have been incarcerated just once, the rate of homelessness is nearly seven times higher than that of the general public. Among people who have been incarcerated multiple times, the rate of homelessness soars to more than 13 times that of the general public. Without safe, stable, affordable housing, a person faces increased difficulties in securing employment, which, in turn, drives rates of re-arrest and re-incarceration.
In interviews with formerly incarcerated people and their family members, nearly 8 out of 10 reported having been denied housing because of a criminal conviction. And recent findings indicate that people who lack an address at the start of probation are 35% more likely to recidivate, while those who experience homelessness during probation are 44% more likely to recidivate.
Conversely, when a formerly incarcerated person’s access to safe, affordable housing is protected, neighborhoods are stabilized, funding for long-term community investment is freed up, and public health and safety increase. The data show what we all know instinctively to be true: we can promote safety in our communities by meeting the needs of residents, starting with the baseline need for housing.
My Fair Chance Housing legislation amends the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act to prohibit housing discrimination based on an arrest or conviction record. This legislation is a companion to Fair Chance Housing legislation introduced by State Representative Donna Bullock in the House. In the face of the ongoing housing crisis, momentum in adopting these protections has increased around the country, with Illinois, Louisiana, and New Jersey recently introducing models for protection.
One in three Pennsylvanians carries with them a criminal record, underscoring the urgent need for our Commonwealth to enact Fair Chance Housing legislation.
Last year, a similar bill (SB 912) was cosponsored by Senators Street, Muth, Hughes, Kane, Kearney, Costa, Cappelletti, Haywood, L. Williams, Comitta, Tartaglione, and A. Williams. Please join me in cosponsoring this community safety and justice initiative.