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Homelessness is closely linked to incarceration, creating a traumatic, costly cycle that robs many people of a second chance.

A report by the John Howard Society states that as of 2021, 22% of all people entering prison are experiencing homelessness – this percentage is three times higher than it was in 2007. And, on the other side of their incarceration, 33% of people are released without a place to live.

People are leaving prison, a traumatizing environment, and then find themselves dealing with traumas and risks associated with homelessness. People who leave prison without the stability of safe housing are more likely to repeat the patterns and behaviours that led them to incarceration, which also creates more victims of crime. And the cycle continues.

Our work

At RJHO, we're working to end this cycle. The financial cost of an endless loop of homelessness and incarceration, the trauma born of instability that creates victims and fear, fuelling discrimination and apathy – it has to stop. We know that with housing and the right support, fewer people will return to prison. We can offer them the best opportunity to repair the harm they have caused and to successfully integrate into society, improving both their own lives and the communities where they live.

Since we opened our first house in 2020, half of RJHO’s residents have already moved to other desirable housing situations. Several former residents have moved from one of our houses to a place closer to their work, to live with companions, or to live independently. Read more about our impact.

Did you know?

Ex-prisoners are one of the only groups that landlords can openly and legally discriminate against. So even if they find an available, affordable place to live (which in the GTA becomes harder by the minute), they could be turned away.


Thats how much it costs, per year, for a prison to house an inmate in a men’s prison.

RJHO can provide a former prisoner with housing and community support for only $15,000 per year. Simply put, it is far more cost effective to invest in supporting ex-prisoners to remain offense-free, stay out of prison, and break the cycle of incarceration.

What does the future look like?

We have achieved and learned a lot in a short period of time. Now, we want to use those lessons and success to broaden our reach, scaling up our operations to help even more people. We are seeking funding to help us further develop our data security, financial reporting, communications, and staff resources – all while continuing to build on our mission to provide housing and support.

On the topic of support, we also intend to enhance our support system by bringing in integration workers with the skills to address significant mental health and addiction issues. Many of our residents will benefit from additional support due to the trauma they have experienced in their lives.

Frequently asked questions

What’s the cost of the criminal justice system in Canada?

Criminal justice delivery encompasses three primary components:

  1. policing;
  2. courts (judges, prosecutors, legal aid, and youth justice); and
  3. corrections (including parole).

According to the John Howard Society of Canada, the total (federal, provincial and municipal) public spending on criminal justice in Canada per year is about $20 billion. About 70% of this spending is provincial/municipal. The total amounts to about $550 in taxes per person in Canada per year.

Of this, nearly $5 billion is for jails and prisons, of which about 55% is provincial and 45% federal. The rest is for courts and police.

How much does it cost to keep a person in a federal prison?

In 2016-2017, the Parliamentary Budget Officer reported an average of 14,310 offenders in federal custody. The average institution-specific expenditures associated with each inmate were $114,587 per year or $314 per day, per offender, and 96% of these costs are attributable to custody.

Impact: The cost per student per year in post-secondary education in Canada was a little over $20,000 in 2012. The cost of one provincial prisoner could pay for 3 post-secondary education students, and one federal prisoner is equivalent to the cost of educating 5 students.

What are the other societal costs of crime?

There have been many studies over time on the total cost of crime in Canada. One such study was done in 2016 and titled: The Monetary Cost of Criminal Trajectories for an Ontario Sample of Offenders.

Cost estimates for the study were obtained for the following components pertaining to the societal impact of offending: 1) victim costs; 2) correctional costs; 3) other criminal justice system (CJS) costs, for example: police, court, prosecution, legal aid expenditures, etc.

The table below is from this report and provides some perspective on the impact on victims of crime.

Average Costs by Offender Disposition Profile

Category Victim costs Correctional costs Other CJS costs Total costs
G1: Federal Custody (N=35) $1,530,830 $782,647 $2,347,940 $4,661,417
G2: Provincial Custody (N=257) $417,729 $305,619 $916,857 $1,640,205
G3: Adult record, no custody (N=49) $315,200 $146,360 $439,081 $900,642
G4: Youth record only (N=45) $138,280 $210,586 $604,758 $944,624
Total (N=386) $473,064 $316,528 $949,584 $1,739,176

The RJHO initiative is focused on individuals in Category 1 who are at high risk to reoffend and where the Victim Costs are the greatest.

In addition to saving money in terms of Correctional Costs and other criminal justice expenditures an important question to consider is: How much is saved in terms of societal cost and pain to victims when a crime is avoided?

Why can't former prisoners find safe housing?

When returning from prison, especially after a long period of incarceration, many people experience challenges when trying to rent an apartment, such as:

  • Many landlords will not rent to people with a criminal record
  • Many people returning from prison can't afford first and last month's rent
  • They often have a long gap in rental history, so they lack the references many landlords demand
  • They don't have the required identification and banking capabilities to get approved for a lease
  • They have a poor credit history
  • Rents in Toronto have increased by 26% over the past 10 years, the vacancy rate has dropped to 1%, and there is a lack of new rental and affordable housing
  • The majority of shelter users are on Ontario Works (OW) or the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) (37% and 29% respectively)
  • OW shelter benefit rates have only increased by 8%
What is restorative justice?

According to the Canadian Department of Justice:

"Restorative justice has been part of Canada’s criminal justice system for over 40 years. Restorative justice is commonly defined as an approach to justice that focuses on addressing the harm caused by crime while holding the offender responsible for their actions, by providing an opportunity for the parties directly affected by the crime – victims, offenders and communities – to identify and address their needs in the aftermath of a crime.

Restorative justice is based on an understanding that crime is a violation of people and relationships. The principles of restorative justice are based on respect, compassion and inclusivity. Restorative justice encourages meaningful engagement and accountability and provides an opportunity for healing, reparation and reintegration. Restorative justice processes take various forms and may take place at all stages of the criminal justice system."

Get involved

Let's have a conversation about how you or your group can help find safe, supportive and sustainable housing for an ex-prisoner in need.