Access to safe, affordable housing is essential to the success of people in reentry and their families. For people leaving prison or jail or those with conviction histories who want to reunify with their family members in public housing or apply for housing themselves, admissions criteria can be a serious barrier. Federal guidelines leave many policy decisions to the discretion of individual public housing authorities (PHAs), and a growing number of PHAs are using their decision-making power to better serve their tenants and future applicants.

Through the Opening Doors to Public Housing initiative, Vera provides technical assistance to select PHAs across the country looking to change their admissions policies and implement reentry programs. Alongside reentry service providers, Continuum of Care organizations, law enforcement agencies, county and state corrections departments, and other essential partners, PHAs are reducing barriers to housing and providing opportunities for greater success and safety in reentry.

Vera guided the implementation of the largest public housing reentry pilot program in the country and continues collaborating on these efforts elsewhere to reunite families in public housing, to the benefit of those returning and their loved ones who often need them at home. Vera also collaborated with the Housing Authority of New Orleans as it changed its screening, review, and admissions standards to make the process clearer and housing assistance more accessible. Through broad changes to admissions policies, other PHAs have also made their rules and processes for applicant review more equitable.

The Opening Doors to Public Housing initiative is supported with funding by the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance.

Project Objectives

  • The project aims to increase the number of housing authorities serving the reentry community.

  • Through this initiative, Vera will educate and build public support on public housing access for formerly incarcerated individuals and their families.