What is the Homecoming Project
The Homecoming Project is an innovative pilot program that provides daily subsidies to homeowners in exchange for providing living space to a person returning home from prison. The Project leverages extra living spaces within Alameda County to promote an additional transitional housing reentry option for people who have served lengthy prison terms, and who will benefit from an individually-tailored program attached to six months of housing.
How is the Homecoming Project similar to an Airbnb?
The Homecoming Project uses an available room in a home to house a participant returning home from prison. It assess the needs of the returning participants and matches them to hosts’ homes. We screen our host homes for nurturing environments that will accommodate a vulnerable individual going through the challenging transitional phase. Both host and participant get to know one another through matching sessions before a housing arrangement is finalized in order to create a compatible co-housing situation.
Why is a shared economy approach necessary?
Current market rate rooms, apartments, and homes are far beyond reach for most people returning home from prison. According to a recent study by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, renters need to earn more than $60,000 a year to be able to afford a studio in Alameda County. For people who have been incarcerated for many years, housing options are exceedingly limited and add to countless re-entry barriers, also known as ‘collateral consequences’ of incarceration.
Are there certain neighborhoods where participants can/cannot live?
A participant’s parole conditions and requirements will determine where he or she can or cannot live. This is typically related to where known victims of the crime live, areas where the crime took place, any known gang or drug associations, or other factors determined by a participant’s parole agent and/or the Board of Parole Hearings.
How big is this pilot?
- Goal: 50 matches in at least 25 homes
- 25+ participants
- 25+ community hosts
How do you match community hosts with participants?
The Homecoming Project Coordinator reviews each participant’s application and shares several applications with available hosts based upon the participants’ goals, lifestyle habits, personal activities, and personality type. The host reviews and has the opportunity to meet with the applicants before determining which participant they would be most compatible with.
How do you screen and vet community hosts and participants to promote matches?
Our Host Advocate works closely with prospective community hosts within faith-based and secular communities to identify interested parties who meet the eligibility criteria. Once the Host Advocate reviews their application, eligible community hosts are invited for an initial in-depth interview to discuss the type of participant he or she is be willing to accept into his or her home, review Project expectations and responsibilities, and grant the Host Advocate permission to inspect the home per interest to participate.
The Project Coordinator conducts screening assessments with potential participants currently in-custody and those released into the community and currently living in transitional homes/halfway houses.The Project Coordinator conducts a screening assessment, adapted from the Ohio Risk Assessment System Community Supervision Tool and the Texas Christian University Client Evaluation of Self and Treatment, a valid and reliable assessment required by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). Participants provide CDCR results of their Correctional Offender Management Profiling for Alternative Sentencing, the primary tool used by CDCR to determine offenders’ level of risk when they return to communities after discharge from prison.
Are there similar models currently in existence?
The Homecoming Project is the first of its kind. Currently there is no other model that subsidizes existing and underutilized living spaces specifically for people re-entering communities post-release from prison.
However, Avenues for Homeless Youth in Minnesota operate three distinct host home programs to provide youth with safe and supportive housing in their communities. With a social justice focus, the three host home programs can serve up to 30 homeless youth ages 16 to 24. Avenues staff have created toolkits and webinars to assist others with developing and implementing similar host housing programs.
How’s Nashville: Housing to End Homelessness in Tennessee operates a program for veterans, which places eligible participants in host homes through the private rental and homeowner markets. In 2016, How’s Nashville successfully placed 185 veterans in stable housing, with an additional 648 chronically homeless people placed in stable housing.
How long will a participant be placed in a host’s home?
A participant can live with a community host for up to six months, per current Impact Justice funds.
What happens after a participant's time is up/after the subsidy ends (after 6 months)?
If a participant and host build a relationship and decide to extend the rental agreement beyond the subsidy paid by Impact Justice, it is incumbent upon the participant and host to determine a rental arrangement where the participant will directly pay the host. If a participant has secured post-Homecoming housing, he or she can decide to move out of the host’s home at any point, but must give Impact Justice and the host at least two weeks notice before the expected move-out date, to ease transitions in and out of the Project.
Information for Community Hosts
What is required of me as a community host?
As a community host, your commitment is to provide a suitable living space for a participant in exchange for a daily subsidy, which includes utilities. Attendance to orientation, educational trainings, and ongoing monitoring for the Homecoming Project at monthly intervals is required. While there are no requirements for engaging participants or Homecoming Project staff, the host is encouraged to form a pro-social bond with her/his participant to promote a healthy home environment and ease transitions for individuals who have been incarcerated for long periods of time.
How much is the daily subsidy I will receive as a host?
Community hosts will receive $25/day for each day a participant lives in a host home. The subsidy will be paid to hosts via electronic deposits or by check. The subsidy covers rent and utilities only. Groceries and food purchases will be up to the participant and host to discuss and agree upon.
Can parole and law enforcement really search my entire home, property and vehicle(s)?
Yes, a parole agent and law enforcement can search your home. However, these searches are limited to areas that the participant frequents. For example, an officer will not be able to search a host’s bedroom if the participant resides in a separate room but would be authorized to search the bathroom if the host and participant share it.
Do I need to inform my neighbors about a participant living in my home?
No. If you are the owner, you are not mandated to disclose any information about the participant living with you and it is suggested you ask the participant what, if anything, he/she wishes to disclose before doing so.
If you are a renter, you must secure approval from the landlord or property owner before participating in the Homecoming Project. Disclosure of people living in the home is up to the community host and the host is not bound by legal requirements to disclose information.
Information for Participants
What is required of me as a participant?
As a participant, you are required to abide by the living agreements you sign between you and Impact Justice, as well as your community host’s rules for living in her/his home (rules must be pre-approved by Project staff). Participants must actively search for and secure placement in an educational and/or employment program to promote wellness outcomes and to reduce unstructured time.
What is the life-coaching/mentoring/case management component for the participants?
Upon release from lengthy incarceration stays, participants will likely need wraparound supportive services that will range in frequency and intensity for each participant, depending on his/her needs related to employment, education, (long-term) housing, family reunification, behavioral health needs (mental health and/or substance abuse treatment), physical health care and wellbeing, benefits enrollment, identification, documentation and legal services, among other needs. The Community Navigator will work closely with participants to identify what resource will best address their individualized needs.
When do participants begin to identify and secure long-term housing?
Participants should begin identifying and applying to housing as soon as they leave prison, if not before. The current scarcity of affordable housing in the Bay Area requires participants to immediately begin looking for long-term housing. While the Homecoming Project is not in and of itself long-term housing, the Project affords participants additional time to secure long-term housing and stabilize in communities during essential periods of post-release.
Safety and Compliance
What happens if a participant or host is non-compliant with project rules?
Upon acceptance into the Homecoming Project, the host and participant will review and sign Project documents, which are binding. Non-compliance will result in discharge from Project participation and subject to further consequences from the parole department for the participant. Each participant and host must agree to abide by Homecoming Project terms, outlined in official documents.
How will you ensure the safety of hosts and participants?
We will work closely with participants and hosts with scheduled check-ins, provide ongoing monitoring and support, and have at least one staff on call at all times. We have procedures written about who to contact, for what and when.
Who do I call in case of an incident?
We have at least one staff available on call at all times. We will also provide written procedures about who to contact, for what, and when.
Will the participant be able to stay in a host’s home all day?
No. Participants will be required to participate in community-based programming and services depending on their individually-tailored life plans.