San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin Supports Reentry Housing Bill to Disrupt Prison to Homeless Pipeline

SF DA Chesa Boudin

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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About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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  1. Ron Oertel

    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.

    Not sure which prison closures they have in mind (or the reason for it), but I would think that neighborhood concerns would be an issue – wherever such facilities are proposed.

    I wonder how well-thought out any of this is.

    1. David Greenwald

      There’s always a reason not to do the right thing, isn’t there? And yet we complain about all sorts of problems associated with redicidivism and homelessness.

      1. Ron Oertel

        Some might argue that the “right thing” is to not commit crimes which victimize other people.

        Some might also ask why they then have to bear the burden/risk, again.

        So, I guess it depends upon “who” the right thing is being done for. The people who’ve created a problem for others, or the ones who have to suffer the consequences.

        Just an observation/thought.

      2. Ron Oertel

        I would also note that this article conflates “homelessness” with “incarceration” for crimes.

        They don’t send homeless people to prison (for that reason, alone). If they did, it would be pretty easy to round them up. (Right in front of SF city hall, for that matter.)

        Nor are they (for the most part) sending people to prison solely for drug use, anymore.

        If you forced neighbors to make a choice between a homeless facility vs. a prison release facility, I’m pretty sure that they would select the former.

    2. Eric Gelber

      I’m always surprised by neighbor opposition to supportive housing for parolees that provides stability, supervision, and supports when the alternative is parolees living in their neighborhoods on their own in unsupervised settings with fewer supportive services. Which do you think would be safer for the community?

      1. Ron Oertel

        I don’t necessarily believe that those are the only two choices.

        Nor do I necessarily believe that the choice you present has actually been fully defined.

  2. Bill Marshall

    Prison to homeless “pipeline”… a figment of imagination… not real…

    That said, homeless folk who may end up in jail/prison, oft as a result of MH/substance abuse issues, or ex-prisoners homeless or not, are worthy of assistance, re-integrating into social norms…

    But equating ‘homeless’ to ‘ex-cons’, is way over the top as to “profiling”… BS, in the extreme… maybe SF is different, but I seriously doubt it…

    1. David Greenwald

      “Figment of imagination”

      Obviously, it’s an analogy. The data however is that “formerly incarcerated people are almost 10 times more likely to be homeless than the general public.” That’s according to the Prison Policy Initiative. In addition, around 15 percent of incarcerated people experience homelessness in the year prior to admission to prison.

    2. Alan Miller

      Prison to homeless “pipeline”… a figment of imagination… not real…

      That pipeline runs right along the railroad tracks right out my kitchen window.

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