Justice and Homes for All – HMIS and OPM Data Match Shows Intersection of Homelessness and Incarceration

Is homelessness is a driver for incarceration and recidivism in the criminal justice system? CCEH conducted an initial analysis of individuals who had been previously matched as having involvement with the Connecticut correctional system with those who have experienced homelessness per the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS).  In partnership with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the goal of the analysis was to understand the intersection of this population in order to reduce the prison population through improved housing interventions via policy changes.

The initial analysis revealed that more than 3,500 individuals had both experienced homelessness and had an encounter with the Department of Corrections (DOC) since 2016.  This represents approximately one-fifth of all people who used homeless shelters since 2016. By examining ‘movement pattern’ data provided by OPM for the sentenced, parole, and pretrial populations, CCEH identified how many from each population had experienced homelessness both prior to or after their exposure to the correctional system.  Nearly two-thirds of those who had served time in the corrections system had experienced homelessness prior to their incarceration while one-third became homeless after their release.  The story is similar for the pretrial population as well.  CCEH is sharing its initial findings and will continue to build on this analysis with additional data sets.

Further analysis confirms that, on any given night, people recently released from DOC represent one-fifth of the sheltered homeless population in Connecticut. This suggests that addressing the intersection of incarceration and homelessness could reduce overall rates of sheltered homelessness by 20%. Much more analysis will be conducted to provide further insights, and many questions remain. Additional data and analysis will reveal more insights and opportunities to intervene with this population and prevent or decrease both homelessness and DOC exposure.

CCEH would like to thank the Tow Foundation and the Melville Charitable Trust for their support and for making this research possible.