Union County Justice Bridge Housing Program
Helping Our Community With a Second Chance
The Justice Bridge Housing Program (JBHP) of the Union County Housing Authority is a widely recognized and innovative program that is being studied for national replication. It serves non-violent offenders from Union County, all of whom have a substance abuse (drug or alcohol) disorder and are at high risk of recidivism. Participants receive monthly rental subsidies for up to 12 months or until they transition to the County’s federally funded Housing Choice Voucher program or, if financially able, obtain market-rate housing. Participants also receive support services as long as they are on parole or probation.
Since the first tenant was housed in November, 2012, 73 individuals have been served in the program. The average age of a participant in the program is 33. Currently, the program has a recidivism rate of 18%, compared to the country average of 53% and the state average of 60%.
While the cost of the JBHP is extremely modest, it results in significant savings to the County. Since Union County’s jail is at maximum capacity, offenders are sent to neighboring county jails at a cost of $72/day, approximately $2,160/month. In 2018, Union County spent over $525,000 to house inmates in neighboring counties. This does not include the cost of healthcare, transportation and other sheriff’s office costs.
The important goal of the program is to ensure that participants become productive tax-paying citizens. Most participants become employed, which reduces the reliance on public health benefits such as SNAP and TANF.
In summary, an annual investment by Union County into the JBHP will reduce the recidivism rate, county jail costs and have multiple positive benefits to the community, participants and their families. While the program has demonstrated that its actual cost may be less than the direct savings to Union County, the savings to the county over time resulting from reduced recidivism suggest an even greater return on the investment.