From 2013 to 2017, BeyondHousing saw a 14% increase in the number of people needing assistance with housing as they prepared to leave Beechworth Correctional Centre and Dhurringile Prison.
BeyondHousing CEO, Celia Adams, said BeyondHousing teams service both the Beechworth Correctional Centre and Dhurringile Prison one day per week and prisoners tell staff that difficulty in finding housing contributes to their re-offending.
“Ensuring people who are being released from prison have a secure, affordable place to live reduces their chance of recidivism,” Ms Adams said.
“It can be more difficult for those being released to find a home due to limited finances, limited family, friend and community support, lack of affordable options for singles and lack of rental references after extended periods of incarceration,” she said.
Ms Adams said prisoners on a Community Corrections order are further placed at risk of breaching their order if accommodation cannot be sourced in the location where they need to report.
The BeyondHousing team helps people leaving prison by initially completing tenancy history checks and developing plans to address any issues.
“The team then negotiates to maintain current housing whether private or public, if the prisoner is serving a short sentence.
“We provide prisoners with information regarding additional support services in their preferred release location and link them to services to assist with material aid, to address immediate needs on release such as a train or bus timetable. People often face leaving prison with nothing and if they don’t have family to turn to, it can be tough.
“We work with the men up to three months prior to their release. This includes submitting and updating housing applications, liaising with other support agencies and working collaboratively with the prison transition co-ordinator and the ReConnect worker, to improve housing and support options for people leaving prisons.
Ms Adams said BeyondHousing delivers Money Minded budgeting training at Beechworth Correctional Centre to help prisoners manage on a limited income when they are released.
“Many of the men have not had to manage their finances for some time, and the cost of living has increased.”
“We believe having a home is a human right and ensuring people who are leaving prison have a secure and affordable home is their best chance for a fresh start,” Ms Adams said.