Assemblymember Chiu Introduces Bill to Shift State Prison Savings to Reentry Housing Program

Legislation will reduce recidivism and homelessness by investing in housing solutions for formerly incarcerated people

For immediate release:

Sacramento, CA—Assemblymembers David Chiu (D-San Francisco), Ash Kalra (D-San Jose), and Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland) announced a bill today that would create a reentry housing program for formerly incarcerated people in order to reduce recidivism and homelessness. Assembly Bill 328 would redirect a portion of anticipated California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) savings to fund the program.

“We are seeing a heartbreaking cycle of incarceration and homelessness play out on our streets every day,” said Assemblymember Chiu. “Giving formerly incarcerated people access to stable housing will reduce recidivism and save our state millions of dollars.”

“As a former public defender, I am familiar with the challenges formerly incarcerated individuals often face when returning to their communities, and reintegration without proper support, like housing and mental health services, too often leads to recidivism,” said Assemblymember Kalra. “I am proud to joint-author this critical piece of legislation with Assemblymember Chiu to provide greater stability for these individuals who have paid their debt to society and prevent those at-risk from homelessness."

“As California’s incarcerated population continues to decline, it’s urgent that we begin dismantling the pipeline from prison to our streets,” said Assemblymember Wicks. “With this bill, we have an opportunity to prevent human suffering AND save money over time, marrying our compassion and our duty as a State to sound fiscal strategy.”

Formerly incarcerated people are 27 times more likely than the general public to experience housing insecurity. Similarly, 50 percent of people who are experiencing homelessness have reported a history of incarceration. Housing insecurity is often a driver of recidivism with people on parole being seven times more likely to recidivate when experiencing homelessness than when housed. 

Due to prison realignment, sentencing reforms, and emergency COVID-19 actions taken by Governor Newsom, California’s prison population is expected to decrease significantly in the coming years. Between 2020 and 2024, the prison population is expected to decrease by 20 percent resulting in significant cost savings at CDCR. The Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates this decrease will result in $1.5 billion in savings to the state. 

Providing formerly incarcerated people with stable housing options would help reduce recidivism and stem the cycle of homelessness and incarceration. This shift would also be a better use of public money as it costs $90,000 per year to incarcerate someone while it only costs $12,800 per year to provide housing with supportive services. 

AB 328 would establish the Reentry Housing Program and direct a portion of CDCR savings to house and provide services to formerly incarcerated people. The Department of Community and Housing Development would be responsible for allocating this funding to counties and continuums of care to pay for long-term housing solutions for formerly incarcerated Californians.

The Corporation for Supportive Housing and Housing California are cosponsoring AB 328. 

“Once again, Asm. Chiu is championing innovation in solving homelessness,” said Sharon Rapport, Director of California State Policy at the Corporation for Supportive Housing. “AB 328 will address the needs of a population often ignored: people experiencing homelessness who were formerly incarcerated in state prison. In ending homelessness for thousands of Californians, this bill will also reduce recidivism, as people who are homeless are seven times more likely to recidivate than those who are housed. It will also increase participants’ chances of landing employment, accessing health stability, and thriving in their communities. This bill will fundamentally shift how we address the needs of this population. For these reasons, CSH is proud to co-sponsor this important bill.” 

“When Californians have served their time, they are looking for the same thing we all do — opportunity, starting with a stable home. Yet too many — especially Black and Latinx Californians — exit incarceration to find a bolted lock on the door to homes, schools, and jobs. That’s not opportunity, that’s a revolving door back into prison,” said Christopher Martin, Policy Director of Housing California. “Housing California is proud to co-sponsor Assemblymember Chiu’s bill, AB 328, which represents the bold step we need to shift resources from mass incarceration to building thriving communities. By providing funding to secure a stable home and specialized services for formerly incarcerated individuals, our legislators can unlock a meaningful chance to re-enter and succeed in society, while taking a giant leap towards ending homelessness as we know it.”

City and County of San Francisco Mayor London N. Breed and San Francisco Public Defender Mano Raju expressed strong support for the proposal.

“I applaud Assemblymember Chiu for his proposal to direct savings from the closure of state prisons to housing our fellow residents who are re-entering society,” said City and County of San Francisco Mayor London N. Breed. “We must invest in solutions that will truly help people rehabilitate rather than leave them at risk of homelessness or returning to the prison system. State resources are critical to enhancing San Francisco's existing commitment to serving those expected to be reentering our community in the years to come.”

“I am proud to support Assemblymember David Chiu’s legislation that will divert resources from the prison system to our clients’ basic needs when they exit incarceration,” said San Francisco Public Defender Mano Raju. “Increased funding to housing and supportive services will help ensure that our clients and their families are healthy and successful.”

AB 328 is expected to be heard in an Assembly policy committee this spring.