Before formerly incarcerated people can find jobs, address health problems, or learn new skills, they first need a safe and stable place to live. Yet the odds are stacked against people leaving prison, despite their best intentions and ambitions. Many people have no home to return to, and face a real estate market where affordable housing is scarce and potentially off-limits to someone with a criminal record. In effect, we marginalize people, setting them up to fail, at the very moment we should embrace them.
We looked at the success of Airbnb and the sharing economy, and saw a model that could be adapted to meet this need. The Homecoming Project provides subsidies to homeowners in exchange for renting a room at an affordable rate to someone returning home from prison. By matching formerly incarcerated people with this form of safe and stable housing, the project not only bridges a gap in services, it also bridges a social divide.
The project provides a strong screening and matching process and offers ongoing support services including communications, problem solving, decision-making, collaboration skills, and coaching to both returnees and hosts. It sets clear rules and expectations for all, which supports successful re-entry and inspiring relationships with positive outcomes. The result is a win-win. Hosts enjoy additional income while helping to rebuild lives, reunite families, and strengthen communities. Returnees gain a safe and stable environment to live in.