Can a "Housing First" Approach Help End the Revolving Door of Jail-Street-Jail?
Date:  05-11-2017

New York City believes permanent housing and wrap-around services are less costly than jail and will reduce arrests and recidivism
From The Marshall Project:

George Washington (not the famous one) first ended up in a New York homeless shelter in the mid-1980s, after he came home from prison for robbery and crack cocaine hit the streets. Since then, he’s passed between girlfriends’ houses, hotels, shelters all over the city, rooming houses, family members’ couches, rehab facilities, and a cell on Rikers Island.

Washington, 54, is considered a “frequent flier”: someone who has cycled in and out of jail on mostly low-level charges. These repeat offenders tend to be older, single men who are chronically homeless and deal with significant mental health or addiction issues. Their arrests are usually the result of not getting the treatment they need or not having a steady place to live. And they’re expensive: between jail, shelters, and the emergency room, they end up costing a lot more in taxpayer dollars than your average resident.

From 2012 to 2015, Washington went to jail 13 times for a total of 348 days. His charges included selling marijuana, “criminal trespass” and “theft of services” for sneaking onto a train without paying, and “fraudulent accosting” for low-level scams (like offering to sell someone drugs and giving them an empty paper bag instead). In that same span, he checked into a homeless shelter 40 times. Continue reading >>