Ohio Housing Policy Summit: Rethinking Re-entry

Last week in Ohio housing authorities and government agencies gathered at the the Housing Policy Summit to talk about the ways Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) across Ohio are looking to include and not exclude formerly incarcerated individuals. The unprecedented event attended by a record 25 housing authorities was held in partnership with the Summit County Executive’s Office and Office of Reentry, and co-sponsored by the Ohio Housing Authorities Conference, the University of Akron School of Law, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, and the Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority.

While HUD Assistant Secretary Lourdes Castro Ramirez could not attend the event, she sent a personal letter applauding the Ohio Housing Authorities Conference for their work and stressed the importance of providing opportunities for the formerly incarcerated. She quoted a HUD notice to PHAs  stating “the Department encourages you to allow ex-offenders to rejoin their families in the Public Housing or Housing Choice Voucher programs, where appropriate.”

How PHAs are utilizing discretion to include rather than exclude people were among the presentation topics. CSH Senior Program Manager Terri Power presented with Margaret diZerega from the Vera Institute of Justice on Making it Happen: Research and Pilots, giving attendees an opportunity to hear about successful reentry projects.

Research from a recent Shriver Center report was presented in When Discretion Means Denial, which found that many housing authorities were using their discretion as a means to deny people rather than accept those in need. Other topics included Coming Home: Proven Post-Release Housing Strategies, and Getting to Work: Proven Strategies for Employment.

At the end of the day, PHA’s identified goals for the next 6 months, many of which involved reviewing administrative plans to see where they could use discretion.

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