Supportive housing projected to save $1.5 million per year in reducing jail, shelter and hospital use
Permanent supportive housing funded by asset forfeiture investment from Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.’s Office
The Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene today announced that 97 individuals in New York City who most frequently cycled through jail on low-level charges, stayed in City shelters, and struggled with behavioral health needs have been connected to permanent supportive housing through a program called “Justice-Involved Supportive Housing.” This approach has been shown to reduce returns to jail by 38 percent and to save $16,000 per individual in annual jail, shelter, and emergency room costs.
“Housing is one of the few proven tools we have to prevent returns to jail for those who struggle with behavioral health issues and chronic homelessness,” said Elizabeth Glazer, director of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice. “For the population with serious mental health needs who have been shuttling between jail, hospitals and shelter for years, permanent housing paired with targeted services has been shown to stop the churn. This saves money, reserves jail for people who pose a public safety risk, and helps people who have been struggling to build productive, stable and healthy lives.”
“Stable, permanent housing is one of the keys to living a healthy life,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “Justice-Involved Supportive Housing’s great innovation is to use data already available to City government to pre-qualify people for supportive housing. This rapid placement process, paired with intense support services, has proven people with long histories of cycling through jail and shelter can succeed in permanent housing.”
In New York City, a relatively small number of people consume a disproportionate share of shelter, jail and emergency room resources. Justice-Involved Supportive Housing aims to stabilize this small population, who:
· Tend to face low-level charges: 90 percent of jail admissions for this population are on misdemeanor charges;
· Cycle through jail repeatedly for short periods of time: The 97 people placed in supportive housing to date entered the City’s custody an average of 11 times each, and spent an average of 370 days in jail over a period of four years;
· Have significant behavioral health needs: The 97 individuals placed to date have a high incidence of serious mental illness and 97 percent report extensive substance use;
· Struggle with homelessness: The 97 people placed in supportive housing to date averaged 240 days in shelter over the last four years; and
· Tend to be older than the average jail population: The 97 people who have been placed to date average 47-years-old.
Permanent supportive housing for individuals who have a history of cycling through the criminal justice system is an evidence-driven model that has been shown to lead to:
· Fewer returns to jail, with a 40 percent reduction in days spent in jail and a 38 percent reduction in jail admissions over two years;
· Less shelter use, with a 90 percent reduction in both shelter admissions and days in shelter over two years; and
· Improved health outcomes, with a 55 percent reduction in days in a psychiatric hospital over two years.
While housed, program participants receive continuous support from a case manager who is able to recommend and connect tenants to crisis interventions, financial management resources, public benefits, substance use counseling and treatment, medication management, and a range of other services for daily living skills. Supportive housing providers include the Fortune Society, CAMBA, and Urban Pathways.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., said: “Far too often we see the same individuals cycling through the revolving door of our courthouses, shelters, and hospitals. Investing in a safe space for this population to live and receive treatment makes us all safer. My Office is proud to be a member of the Task Force on Behavioral Health and the Criminal Justice System, and to have provided the $9 million in funding for supportive housing citywide from my Office’s Criminal Justice Investment Initiative.”
In order to ensure that available apartments in scattered sites across the City are effectively matched to the individuals with greatest need, the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice used an intensive and innovative data-match process to identify 400 individuals who have had at least five admissions to City jails and five admissions to City shelters within any four-year period, and who are likely living with behavioral health issues. Eighty percent of the beds funded under this program have already been filled, and the City is actively working to connect other eligible individuals to permanent homes.
Justice-Involved Supportive Housing is a top priority of the Mayor’s Task Force on Behavioral Health and the Criminal Justice System, a $130 million commitment to reducing the number of people with behavioral health needs cycling through the criminal justice system. Despite dramatic declines in both crime and the use of jail in New York City over the last twenty years, the percentage of the jail population with behavioral health needs stayed largely constant, comprising a larger and larger proportion of the overall jail population. Since the Task Force was launched, the jail population with behavioral health needs has fallen 5% after increasing for 20 years.