Housing in America is Unjust

In the City of Houston, funding from the city to housing programs has been cut over 80% in the last 10 years, and the budget keeps getting smaller and smaller.  As hard as it already is to provide housing for a family these days with rent so high and minimum wage so low, it is even harder to provide for your family with a criminal record. And finding a place to rent if you have a felony charge on your criminal record is damn near impossible.

Consider these statistics when thinking about housing and criminal justice:

  1. 1 in 3 adult Americans have a criminal record (Prison Fellowship, 2018)
  2. In the United States, one in three American adults has a criminal record.
  3. Approximately 2.7 million children in the United States have a parent who is incarcerated. (The Pew Charitable Trusts, Collateral Costs: Incarceration’s Effect on Economic Mobility (Washington, DC: The Pew Charitable Trusts, 2010)
  4. More than 5 million children have had a parent incarcerated (2020)
  5. An estimated 684,500 state and federal prisoners were parents of at least one minor child in 2016—nearly half of state prisoners (47%) and more than half of federal prisoners (58%). State and federal prisoners reported having an estimated 1,473,700 minor children in 2016. Among minor children of parents in state prison, 1% were younger than age 1, about 18% were ages 1 to 4, and 48% were age 10 or older.” (Prison Policy, 2018)
  6. Formerly incarcerated people are almost 10 x more likely to be homeless than the general public
  7. A national survey found that 15 percent of people incarcerated in jail had been homeless in the year before incarceration—up to 11 times more than the estimate for the general U.S. adult population. (Greg A. Greenberg and Robert A. Rosenheck, “Jail Incarceration, Homelessness, and Mental Health: A National Study,” Psychiatric Services 59, no. 2 (2008)

A basic function of government is to take care of its citizens, but the City of Houston is not taking care of us. As Craig DeRoche, senior vice president of advocacy and public policy at Prison Fellowship, says, “The biggest foundational problem of the criminal justice system is that the public has allowed the government to accept failure.” When Houston City Council was asked multiple times last week during a Housing Committee meeting which Council Members were for increasing funding to housing, none of them answered. 

Written By: Vinisha PatelAdams