CUYAHOGA COUNTY, OH - Cuyahoga County is implementing a strategy to address housing barriers faced by individuals who cycle through incarceration, homelessness, and hospitals.
The Office of Reentry unveiled its Eight Point Plan for Housing Justice in Cuyahoga County at Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry today, with Cuyahoga County Executive Chris Ronayne, Office of Reentry Director Simeon L. Best, and Senior Policy Advisor of Housing and Services for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Dr. Richard Cho.
The comprehensive plan emphasizes a need to break the link between housing instability and incarceration, highlighting research that shows people with criminal records are ten times more likely to experience homelessness and, consequently, reoffend.
The Office of Reentry is proposing action strategies to disrupt this harmful cycle, including:
- Fair Chance Housing legislation which would prevent property owners and property managers from discriminating against individuals with criminal backgrounds. It’s estimated that 23,000 individuals and their families who exit incarceration each year in Cuyahoga County would benefit if legislation were enacted that would expressly bar this common practice.
- Housing and Community Development of 105 new units in scattered site or small-scale developments accessible to people with varying criminal backgrounds.
- Asset-building and home ownership pilots for people with criminal backgrounds. Provide down payment assistance, matched savings and lease-to own housing units, pilot flexible credit programs, and dedicated housing counselors for those impacted by incarceration. At least 673 households would benefit from these pilots.
“All individuals have the fundamental right to fair and equal housing opportunities, including those who have history with the criminal justice system,” said Cuyahoga County Executive Chris Ronayne. “Formerly incarcerated people face great obstacles in obtaining a stable and secure residence. Here, in Cuyahoga County, we are committed to ending these injustices by pushing back against discrimination and moving toward inclusion and acceptance in the housing sphere with the goal of reducing homelessness and ensuring fair housing for everyone.”
"Ultimately, we want to reduce recidivism, help returning citizens build productive and purposeful lives, and be an asset to their family and friends. Addressing housing needs is an important part of helping them become and remain part of a safe, healthy, vibrant, and equitable community," said Office of Reentry Director Simeon L. Best.
The Eight Point Plan for Housing Justice in Cuyahoga County aims to reduce the suffering of people with behavioral health challenges reentering society after incarceration, their family members, and their affected communities.
The recommendations presented by the Office of Reentry will be integrated into the broader housing plan for Cuyahoga County by the newly established
Department of Housing and Community Development. This initiative signifies a commitment to creating a more inclusive and supportive environment for all residents of Cuyahoga County.
The public may access the complete report and its recommendations on the Office of Reentry web site.
View Photo gallery from the Housing Justice event on October 12, 2023.