September 13, 2023
Poor housing dooms prison rehab effort
A new investigation has found released prisoners are set up to fail by a lack of housing – with Māori significantly more affected.
Criminologists from Auckland University’s School of Social Sciences found two thirds of prisoners were living in unstable housing 6 months after release, and almost half had moved two or more times during that period.
Maori were 2.4 times more likely to find it very difficult to find housing and 1.7 times more likely to be living in unstable housing.
Associate professor Alice Mills says on release prisoners are given just $350 to get them through the next two weeks, which hasn’t been raised since the 1980s.
They often don’t have the identification documents needed to set up bank accounts and get help from WINZ, and they don’t have the rental history or references which they need for private rental housing.
“They found it really difficult to do things like pay rent but also buy groceries, buy basic furniture like a bed if they were living in a completely new place. We do need to be very concerned about reintegration and how we try to ensure that people leaving prison are able to play a role in society and it’s extremely hard for them to do that without stable housing,” Dr Mills says.
Released prisoners felt if they were in stable housing with control of who could come and go, they were more likely to gain employment and not re-offend.