ex-prisoner
Public housing leads to better outcomes for ex-prisoners. Image – Canva
  • AHURI has been released by AHURI which concludes public housing reduces ex-prisoners reoffending
  • 8.8% reduction in police incidents found in research
  • The sooner ex-prisoners can be housed, the greater the benefit is for society and individual

New research released by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) finds that providing social housing for ex-prisoners would lead to better outcomes for the individual and society.

More than half of ex-prisoners leave incarceration only to experience various forms of homelessness or precarious housing. This has ramifications for future encounters with the legal system.

The AHURI report found that after receiving public housing, ex-prisoners with complex support needs had notably better outcomes. These included an 8.8% reduction in police incidents, a 7.6% reduction in court appearances, a 7.5% reduction in police incidents and an 11.2% reduction in time in custody.

Dr Chris Martin from UNSW Sydney, lead researcher for the report said that the provision of public housing helps flatten the curve of future legal encounters.

Fewer interactions of ex-prisoners with the justice system will inevitably be cost-saving.

“When housing costs are taken into consideration, public housing generates a net benefit of $5,200 to $35,000 per person over five years relative to the cost of providing assistance to an ex-prisoner in private rental or through homelessness services,’

Dr Chris Martin, UNSW Sydney

On average it takes five years from the time of release for an ex-prisoner to receive public housing is five years. Were provided sooner, the report concludes, the benefits would be even greater for both individual and society.

While the incarceration numbers have grown over the last decade, the provision of social housing did not keep up.

There is a need for much greater provision of social housing to people exiting prison, particularly for those with complex support needs according to the report.

“Relatively secure, affordable public housing is a steady ‘hook for change’ that a person exiting prison can hold onto as they make changes in their circumstances, and in themselves, to desist from offending. It is also a stable base from which to receive and engage with support services,” the report concludes.

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