TRENTON – The Senate advanced legislation today that would require the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) to establish basic standards for prisoner reentry transitional housing. Access to stable housing has been identified as a key component for individuals being able to successfully reenter their communities and begin the next chapter of their lives.
Under the bill, S-771, sponsored by Senator Nellie Pou and Senator Shirley Turner, the Commissioner of DCA, in consultation with the Commissioner of Corrections, would be required to promulgate rules and regulations that would establish standards for prisoner reentry transitional housing supported by public funds.
The bill would provide that the regulations establish standards for the following:
- ensuring the physical safety of the residents;
- providing emergency and longer-term housing;
- counseling and support services to assist residents in successfully transitioning back into the community, including substance abuse treatment, medical services, independent living skills training, education, career development, family services, and recreation;
- personalized care management including targeted care for residents who served long terms of incarceration; and
- assisting residents in obtaining permanent housing.
The bill would take effect immediately.
“Individuals who return from incarceration in our jails and prisons often face immense challenges in attempting to successfully reenter their communities and regain their lives. Providing safe, stable, and affordable transitional housing to formerly incarcerated individuals allows them to focus more on accessing services they may need to successfully turn the page,” said Senator Pou (D-Passaic/Bergen).
The bill will set basic guidelines for that reentry housing based upon standards from the successful Fortune Academy. This model prisoner reentry transitional housing program in New York City uses a specific set of criteria of assistance that is uniquely geared toward the needs of those reentering the community to provide for successful reentry and reduce recidivism among those previously incarcerated.
“Safe and affordable transitional housing is critical for those who have been released from prison and seeking a new start. Often, these individuals face few viable options when it comes to housing, and so finding places that are safe and supportive is not only humane but also will help break the cycle of homelessness and recidivism among those formerly incarcerated. Housing can provide that first step on their road to a new life,” said Senator Turner (D-Mercer/Hunterdon).
The bill would create standards for reentry organizations that provide transitional housing and are supported by public funds.
The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 36-0.