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The Role of Probation and Parole in Making Housing a Priority for People with Behavioral Health Needs

NCJ Number
Thomas Coyne
Date Published
March 2021
2 pages

This report provides guidance for probation and parole agencies on the importance of and ways to assist probationers and parolees in accessing housing.


The Housing First approach is presented as a potential model. It is an evidence-based model for providing affordable housing, paired with tenant-driven, “wraparound” services and supports (e.g., case management, mental health treatment, and supported employment). This is an appropriate model for people with significant behavioral health and housing needs. Another approach relies on short-term rental assistance and other supports to reduce the likelihood that a person will experience homelessness. Usually beginning with a high level of support, such as case management and rental assistance, rapid rehousing services are reduced as a person achieves stability in the community. This can be a good fit for people with fewer long-term needs. Traditionally, probationers and parolees reentering the community have been connected to short-term housing options, such as halfway houses. They should be initially assessed for housing needs and be regularly assessed for any changes in housing needs. Given the high competition for affordable permanent housing, probation and parole agencies should partner with service providers and landlords to determine the status of the housing market and the kinds of housing suited for probationers and parolees with various needs. A local Continuum of Care is the regional planning body that coordinates local responses to homelessness and connections to housing resources. Other resources are the local public housing authority, landlords or landlord associations, and collaborative case management teams. Once clients have some type of housing, parole and probation agencies must monitor their housing status to prevent revocations or rearrests.