By Juliet Bost
SAN FRANCISCO — Newly proposed reentry housing program legislation – designed to disrupt the prison to homeless pipeline – proposed in Assembly Bill 328, the Reentry Housing Program, has been openly supported by the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, SF Public Defenders, and Prosecutors Alliance of California.
The Reentry Housing Program, presented in AB 328 by Housing and Community Development Committee Chair David Chiu (D-San Francisco) and jointly authored by Assembly members Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) and Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland), seeks to disrupt the pipeline from incarceration to homelessness and reduce overall recidivism rates, which are seven times greater among homeless populations.
The program would use the savings from state prison closures to provide five-year renewable grants to county and city level “supportive housing” programs for formerly incarcerated people.
The “supportive housing” framework, which prioritizes affordable housing for people on parole living in extreme poverty, is one evidence-based solution for parolee housing insecurity.
Authors of the program also note they recognize that efforts to reduce recidivism rates must also account for racial inequities within the homelessness crisis and carceral systems, with
African Americans overrepresented among the homeless and incarcerated populations.
San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin is one progressive voice calling for the need to explicitly center the needs of communities, victims, and offenders in criminal justice reform, especially those disproportionately harmed by the criminal justice system.
In an interview with KQED in early January, Boudin recognized that the SFDA’s Office has “played a leadership role in reimagining how we can promote public safety and support victims of crime while also decreasing our reliance on racist policies that have destroyed families and communities and bankrupted local governments.”
In creating the Reentry Housing Program, State Assembly members join prosecutors, public defenders, and activists in calling for prioritized financial investment in communities as a key aspect of criminal justice reform.
There is widespread support for AB 328 among affordable housing advocates, including the Residents United Network (RUN), a statewide coalition of affordable housing activist organizations.
Members of RUN in particular expressed their overwhelming support for AB 328 during the three-day virtual Lobby Days event.
“[AB 328] helps formerly incarcerated people move on from mistakes and the prison industrial complex towards stable housing and a brighter future,” commented Anakh Sul Rama, a member of RUN and community organizer for San Francisco-based Community Housing Partnership.
Housing California, a Sacramento-based affordable housing lobbying organization and sponsor on AB-328, praised HCD Committee members for passing the proposal in a Tweet Monday evening, noting,
“[AB 328] would go a long way towards ending that cycle of homelessness and incarceration in California.”
Boudin echoes this sentiment in his goal of breaking this cyclic pipeline from homelessness to incarceration and back.
“I was elected on a very transparent and clear platform to enforce the law equally and to fight for racial justice and equity in our criminal justice system,” Boudin stated in the same KQED interview.
“To focus resources on root causes of crime so that we can break the revolving door that has come to so epitomize the failed American approach to criminal justice from coast to coast.”
Juliet Bost is a third year at UC Davis, majoring in Political Science – Public Service and minoring in Religious Studies. They are originally from San Mateo, California. They are a member on the Chesa Boudin Recall – Changing the Narrative Project.
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