Improvement in homelessness rate among those released from prison, more work ahead
Fewer people released from Minnesota prisons are becoming homeless compared to the year before.
According to the 2022 Department of Corrections Homelessness Report, the homelessness rate among those released from prison is about 19% — that’s a reduction of 6% from 2021.
“Anytime we can reduce homelessness of people coming out of the prison system, that is good for us, and it’s good for public safety,” Paul Schnell, commissioner of the DOC, said.
Commissioner Schnell says a big part of the improvement is thanks to a revamped relationship with the Minnesota Department of Human Services. The DOC says the partnership better helps them connect inmates at a higher risk of being homeless with public assistance that can help.
“Some people may ask the question, ‘why are we doing this to people who committed a wrong? Why are we doing this to people [who] committed crimes?’ And, while that’s an understandable question, on the one hand, on the other hand, [we all] have to be focused on their success,” Commissioner Schnell said about inmates. “Their success is our safety.”
Another factor, among others, that the DOC is crediting with this improvement is the implementation of a full-time housing coordinator, paid for with federal COVID-19 response grant funds.
Commissioner Schnell says the positive progress is still met with more work ahead, specifically with Black, Indigenous, and persons of color (BIPOC). According to the DOC, of those who are on supervised release, 46% of those experiencing homelessness identified as BIPOC.
This is only the second homelessness report the DOC has had to put together. Results are then shared with the legislature.
Last legislative session, lawmakers approved more than $7.7 million to support this effort for the next couple of years. That money will help support housing stabilization services, housing coordinator capacity, rental assistance, and culturally responsive transitional housing.