Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice, Department of Health Announce Successful Rollout of "Justice-involved Supportive Housing" Program Stabilizing Individuals Who Frequently Cycle Through Jail and Shelter

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

NEW YORK –  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. The Corporation for Supportive Housing has been delivering technical assistance to the City and providers courtesy of the Jacob & Valeria Langeloth Foundation.

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.

“We know the tools to stop the revolving door of homelessness and recidivism," said Council Member Stephen Levin. "A housing-first, supportive services approach is key. This strategy not only appeals to our ideals of justice and fairness, it is also cost-effective in the long run. I applaud the Mayor for the promising rollout of Justice-Involved Supportive Housing and I look forward to continued success addressing homelessness."

"When the Mayor first released the report on Behavioral Health and Criminal Justice in 2014, it was shocking to learn how much resources are being spent on a few ‘frequent flyers’ - a small population of individuals who cycle through the system with records spanning years of so-called ‘turnstile justice’ or a revolving door between the streets and jails. While the population is small, the resources spent on this high needs demographic are significant, and a systemic solution would be required to address this issue. Housing with wrap around services is a long term solution that addresses the source of issues brought on by mental illness that can result in criminal justice interactions. Therefore, I am proud to congratulate the Administration on their Justice-Involved Supportive Housing initiative, which will save the City $16,000 per person and reduce returns to jail by 38% a year," said Council Member Andrew Cohen, Chair of the Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, Alcoholism, Substance Abuse, and Disability Services Committee.

“The effectiveness of supportive housing in keeping recidivism rates low, is proof positive that law enforcement isn’t always the best solution to deterring crime. We must continue to invest in significant resources, and not just rhetoric, when dealing with at-risk populations,” said Council Member Jumaane D. Williams, Chair of the Committee on Housing and Buildings.

"We are heartened by the City's commitment to JISH and pleased to be engaged with such dedicated providers that are finding the housing and services for a very vulnerable population," said Kristin Miller, Director of the Corporation for Supportive Housing New York Program. "We look forward to continuing our efforts to advance this successful initiative, collaborating with our partners to expand its impact and to ensure additional resources are available to help more people."

JoAnne Page, President and CEO of the Fortune Society, said “The Fortune Society is honored to partner with the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice in a range of initiatives to help reduce the disproportionate incarceration and homelessness rates of individuals with behavioral health needs. As one of the organizations providing Justice-Involved Supportive Housing (JISH), and as a provider of reentry housing for homeless individuals with criminal justice involvement over the past 15 years, we know how important stable and supportive housing is to bringing people home safely to the community. New York District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s decision to use asset forfeiture money is a wise investment in community safety and in justice. It is with joy that I see the early results of the JISH program as announced by the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice. My great hope is that successful initiatives will be brought to scale to reduce the ugly and damaging way in which too many people with behavioral health issues unnecessarily cycle between jails and shelters and hospitals.”

"CAMBA commends the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice on this innovative program," said Joanne M. Oplustil, President & CEO of CAMBA/CAMBA Housing Ventures. "In just one year, CAMBA has successfully housed 32 individuals with histories of homelessness that date back 20-30 years. We are proud that 94% have been able to maintain housing with our support, despite mental illness, substance abuse histories and very little experience with independent living.”

“For more than 40 years, Urban Pathways has been a proven solution for those both living on the streets and navigating the criminal justice system. As one of only three providers of Justice Involved Supportive Housing (JISH), our program helps individuals to break the cycles of incarceration and homelessness by providing stable, affordable housing and services through our supportive housing model. We are proud to be a partner in reducing recidivism in our city’s shelters and jails. Supportive housing, with vital social services, is truly a cost effective way to address these issues and provide opportunities for those returning from imprisonment,” said Chief Executive Officer at Urban Pathways, Frederick Shack.

Giselle Routhier, Policy Director at Coalition for the Homeless, said, “The City’s success with the Justice Involved Supportive Housing program proves again that supportive housing is the most humane and cost-effective tool we have to help many homeless New Yorkers repair their lives and get back on their feet. Supportive housing must be at the center of any strategy to reduce near-record homelessness, and leaders at all levels of government must join New York City’s commitment to investing in this time-tested model.”

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CONTACT: mocj@cityhall.nyc.gov, (212) 416-5298