Accommodation for ex-offenders: third sector housing advice and provision

Working paper 77

Links between homelessness and offending are well-established with about a third of offenders being homeless either before or after imprisonment. Housing has been recognised as one of the key factors that can reduce re-offending and is one of the seven Reducing Re-Offending Pathways established by the Reducing Re-Offending National Action Plan in 2004.

There have been several positive developments in the last ten years, with many prisons now having a dedicated housing advisor and important links with third sector organisations (TSOs) and housing providers. But despite the involvement of housing-TSOs, offenders and ex-offenders still face numerous challenges when trying to secure accommodation.

Local Authority criteria for assessing homelessness, local allocation policies and the presence of a criminal record can all delay or prevent ex-offenders from receiving accommodation. Ex-offenders are also affected by lack of available housing stock, difficulties in partnership working - especially accross local authority areas - and restrictions on the types of offenders likely to be prioritised. Recent policies such as the Localism Act are likely to make things worse, allowing for greater flexibilty to exclude new applicants from social housing lettings.

The research calls for a more transparent housing priority assessment system and increased housing opportunities for marginalised groups, such as short-sentenced prisoners and young offenders.

The paper also discusses the limitations of recent policies to increase the use of the private rented sector in housing homeless people, and the limitations of Social Impact Bonds and Payment by Results.

More Information

This paper draws on a qualitative study in eight prisons and one probation area and a short survey of 680 offenders to examine the role of the third sector in assisting offenders and ex-offenders to find suitable accommodation. Previous reports are available

Research contacts

Rosie Meek, Dina Gojkovic, Alice Mills