Strengthening connections among criminal justice agencies, behavioral health organizations, and the community to improve wellbeing for people with mental health conditions or co-occurring substance use disorders.

Action Points: Four Steps to Expand Access to Housing for People in the Justice System with Behavioral Health Needs

State and local leaders are beginning to understand that providing affordable, permanent housing is fundamental to reducing justice involvement, particularly for people with behavioral health needs. However, affordable housing is scarce nationwide, and people who have been involved in the justice system face a number of barriers to accessing available housing, including stigma and prohibitions based on criminal records. These challenges disproportionately impact Black and Latinx people, who already face higher rates of incarceration and homelessness than the population as a whole. In light of these challenges, this brief presents four steps state leaders should take to increase housing opportunities and improve justice and health outcomes for this population. Photo credit: Photo by Blake Wheeler on Unsplash

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Profile image of Charles Francis

Charles Francis

Deputy Program Director, Behavioral Health

[email protected]

Charles Francis oversees work at the intersection of housing, criminal justice, and behavioral health. He focuses on strategies for state and local partners to increase access to and availability of housing to reduce justice system involvement and facilitate successful reentry, as well as effective law enforcement and community responses to homelessness. Previously, Charley was assistant director of Leased Housing at Rhode Island Housing and director of Policy for the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development. At the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, he played a lead role in implementing the Rental Assistance Demonstration program. Charley holds an MPP from the Heller School for Social Policy at Brandeis University and a BA from Hamilton College. 

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