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How States Can Use American Rescue Plan Act Funding for Affordable Housing
By Blair Lozier
The U.S. Department of the Treasury has updated guidance that expands the use of the American Rescue Plan Act State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds for affordable housing.
The Treasury released a How-to Guide that demonstrates how recipients can leverage the fiscal recovery funding with other sources to maximize resources to meet housing needs. This article summarizes the expanded options that states may pursue to invest State and Local Fiscal Recovery funding in affordable housing.
The guide discusses two options available to states.
Option 1: State and local governments can use recovery funds for affordable housing projects that are categorized in the American Rescue Plan Act under Public Health and Negative Economic Impact. Recipients are presumptively eligible for additional funding if they already qualify for related pre-existing federal programs.
Expanded Presumptive Eligibility
A project is deemed to be presumptively eligible if it meets standards for pre-existing federal programs set by the Treasury. If the housing units or development in question meet the presumptive eligibility requirements, no further approval process will be required.
The Treasury presumes that the following affordable housing investments are eligible uses of fiscal recovery funds in response to the negative economic impacts of COVID-19:
Projects already in process under authorization by another federal housing program. Projects for developing, repairing or operating affordable rental housing with certain requirements for tenant income and affordability.
Expanded Presumptive Eligibility Programs
Previous ProgramsExpanded ProgramsIn January 2022, Treasury designated two U.S.
Department of Housing and Urban Development programs that would allow recipients to be
Housing Trust Fund
HOME Investment Partnerships Program Treasury allows housing projects to be presumptively eligible if they meet existing requirements for the following federal programs.
Project-Based Rental Assistance
Section 811 – Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities Program
Low-Income Housing Tax Credit
National Housing Trust Fund
Public Housing Capital Fund
Section 202 – Supportive Housing for the Elderly Program
State and Local Governments
HOME Investment Partnerships Program
Multifamily Preservation and Revitalization Program
Indian Housing Block Grant Program
Indian Community Development Block Grant Program
Bureau of Indian Affairs Housing Improvement Program
Option 2: Allow State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds to be used if the housing units funded serve households at or below 65% of the average median income for at least 20 years.
Blended funding is the merging of funds from different sources for the delivery and increased impact of services. States can blend fiscal recovery funds with other resources as long as projects are eligible under all programs from which funds are drawn. Blending State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds with other government funding must adhere to all federal requirements for cost-sharing/matching.
Funding new and substantial affordable housing. Funds can be used to finish construction projects by bridging gaps in financing. It can also be used to expedite the construction or transformation of affordable housing projects.
Pre-Existing Federal ProgramsState and Local Fiscal Recovery Funding OpportunitiesLow Income Housing Tax CreditFour to nine percent can be allocated for new construction or preservation of affordable housing.Federal Housing Administration Multifamily Mortgage InsuranceFunding can be provided to cover the cost of the project.HOME Investment and Housing Trust FundParticipating jurisdictions may use recovery funds to meet affordable housing production and repair goals.HOME Investment Partnerships American Rescue Plan ProgramFunding can be blended with other American Rescue Plan Act resources to support the acquisition or construction of rental houses for eligible populations.Project-Based VouchersFunding can be blended with local public housing authorities to be used to build or rehabilitate affordable housing units.Recapitalization of Public Housing through a Rental Assistance DemonstrationFunding can support transactions to add new affordable housing.Community Development Block Grants and Section 108 Loan Guarantee ProgramFunding can be blended to invest an annual installment to support conversion or reconstruction projects; also, can be used to make eligible affordable housing investments.
Existing properties that will be transformed into affordable housing
Recipients can acquire market-rate rental properties, hotels, motels or properties that will be converted to affordable housing. Other allowable uses include acquiring or preserving existing publicly-supported affordable housing or financing retrofits to and weatherizing of existing properties to improve energy efficiency.
Opportunities for Blended Funding with Federal Housing Administration Multifamily Mortgage InsuranceMortgage insurance for purchase or refinancing of existing multifamily rental housing under
Section 223(f) of the National Housing ActThe fiscal recovery fund provides support to finance or refinance a property acquisition.Risk Share Section 542 (c )The fiscal recovery fund allows a risk share loan for the acquisition or refinance of affordable properties.
Opportunities for Blended Funding for Vacant or Abandoned Properties in Disproportionately Impacted CommunitiesSection 108 of the Loan Guarantee Program and
HOME Investment or Housing Trust FundFunding can be used for the eligible housing portion for mixed-use development.
Whether the project is entirely or partially funded through the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund, the government must report the obligating of funds to the Treasury by Dec. 31, 2024, and must expend funds by Dec. 31, 2026.
State Examples Presumptive eligibility was expanded to respond to questions and concerns about allocation of fiscal recovery funds. The Treasury established four core requirements for presumptive eligibility:
Resident income restrictions.Tenant protections.Housing quality standards.Affordability period for assisted units.
The Illinois The Housing Development Authority allocated $75 million in recovery funds to provide gap financing and underwriting for affordable housing developments. Grant funding will support 1,023 units in 19 affordable developments.
The Rhode Island Rebounds Production Fund Program is using $15 million for the production of new affordable housing and provides grants for households with incomes at or below 80% of average median income in the state.
Additional examples of states using the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds for affordable housing as reported from the Treasury can be found here.
About $350 billion was dedicated to developing, repairing and operating affordable housing units under the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund. As of March 31, 2022 Treasury data showed that over 600 state and local governments budgeted about $12.9 billion in funds toward affordable housing. The initiatives focused on lower housing-related costs and creating and preserving affordable housing developments.
The Treasury has clarified that states can reinvest the money from affordable housing long-term loans once the revenue is received. The income from reinvesting in affordable housing does not need to be repaid to the Treasury.
Recipients have the flexibility to design affordable housing projects if they are related or proportional to addressing the negative impact of COVID-19. Additional information is available in the Treasury’s Frequently Asked Questions.
Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds Website:
Affordable Housing How-To Guide:
Compliance & Reporting Guidance:
Final Rule Frequently Asked Questions:
Email: [email protected]
Growing Prosperity: Agriculture, Technology, and the Future of Farming
Southern state officials gathered in Atlanta for the “Growing Prosperity: Agriculture, Technology, and the Future of Farming” Policy Masterclass. Twenty officials from 11 CSG South states –Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia – participated in the event.
Over two days, participants learned about recent developments in agriculture, technology, and relevant state and federal legislation. Briefings covered the current state of agriculture, farm labor shortages, food insecurity, agricultural trade, and the struggle of small rural farmers. Attendees visited the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Agricultural Technology Research Program to see new devices and techniques being developed to enhance agricultural methods and participated in roundtable discussions to hear from their colleagues about agricultural issues in Southern states.
Experts from the Georgia Institute of Technology, American Farm Bureau Federation, West Virginia Department of Agriculture, Georgia Department of Agriculture, Georgia Center of Innovation, and AppHarvest shared their knowledge and insights with attendees through presentations and interactive briefings. Participants also met with Chancellor of the University System of Georgia Sonny Perdue to learn about his time as a state Senator (1991-2002), Governor of Georgia (2003-2011) and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture (2017-2021).
The Masterclass was hosted by CSG South and moderated by Senator Tyler Harper of Georgia, chair of the CSG South Agriculture and Rural Development Committee. By interacting with subject matter experts and colleagues from other Southern states, participants increased their knowledge of agriculture, farm labor shortages, agricultural technology, and policies related to these issues. The Masterclass participants included:
Representative Randall Shedd, Alabama
Representative Harlan Breaux, Arkansas
Representative Roger Lynch, Arkansas
Representative Christine Hunschofsky, Florida
Representative John Corbett, Georgia
Representative Robert Dickey, Georgia
Senator Tyler Harper, Georgia
Senator Larry Walker, Georgia
Representative David Wilkerson, Georgia
Representative Phillip Pratt, Kentucky
Senator Robin Webb, Kentucky
Mr. Nicholas Cole, Louisiana
Senator Tyler McCaughn, Mississippi
Senator Benjamin Suber, Mississippi
Representative Kenneth Walker, Mississippi
Representative Jim Grego, Oklahoma
Representative Russell Ott, South Carolina
Representative Vincent Dixie, Tennessee
Delegate Riley Keaton, West Virginia
Commissioner Kent Leonhardt, West Virginia
Click here for workshop photos
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Question of the Month, September
Have Southern states recently passed any laws related to recycling?
Click here to find out the answer
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Ballot Curing 101
By Sarah Moon
Each state employs specific requirements for votes to be verified and subsequently counted. As a result, U.S. voters can face challenges in casting error-free absentee or mail-in ballots.
While those mail-in ballot requirements generally vary by state, in every state, voters are required to provide a valid signature on their ballot and related documents. However, mistakes do happen, so what do states do if a ballot is missing a signature or if there is a discrepancy in signature matching?
Some states utilize a range of ‘ballot curing’ procedures to notify voters and allow them ample time to correct these signature-related errors. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 24 states currently require election administrators and/or officials to conduct this ballot curing process. The remaining states typically do not count ballots that require correction.
How does ‘ballot curing’ work?
Most states employ a signature verification process to confirm the identity of absentee voters. These signatures are then compared to the voter’s signature that the state may already have on file, often sourced through an individual’s voter registration file.
When the voter’s signature is missing on the ballot envelope or if there is sufficient reason to claim discrepancy in the signature matching process, the voter’s eligibility may have to confirmed through alternative means.
Ballot curing requires both notification and correction. Often, election administrators or state election officials inform voters about problems with their ballot via phone, e-mail or mail. Then, the voter is given time to cure such errors. To resolve these discrepancies, voters frequently are asked to provide additional information to confirm their identity or to provide a new signature that verifies their eligibility.
What are some state variations?
States conduct the curing process in different ways. Some states only allow voters to correct their ballots in cases of discrepancies in signature matching but not in cases of missing signatures. Other states require a witness signature on mail-in ballots alongside the voter’s.
These ballot cures must be completed by a specified deadline, which also varies by state and locality. To complicate things further, many voters aren’t familiar with the curing process and may dismiss notifications that are sent to them via mail. Postal slowdowns could result in delays and because voters have limited time to correct any deficiencies, these delays could result in ballots not being counted.
These inconsistencies in process and the resulting challenges have continuously received pushback, most notably following the 2020 election.
While ballot curing is an important step in making sure each vote is counted, it does not provide a complete solution to ballot rejection. The lack of standardization and other disqualifying errors cannot be fixed through existing ballot curing procedures. In addition to streamlining and easing the ballot curing process, these issues and others could be further examined to improve the procedures for counting mail-in ballots.
What can states do?
States can make changes to their absentee/mail-in ballot processes and help educate voters about related rules and procedures. Employing available technologies, Colorado started an initiative to help voters ensure that their votes are counted. These efforts specifically targeted younger populations in order to encourage their experiences participating in the democratic process. All 64 counties in the state utilized the TXT2CURE program to minimize the impacts of ballot rejection, and the state continues to boast one of the lowest rates of signature-rejected ballots out of all states employing a vote-by-mail-for-all system.
The TXT2CURE program uses smartphones to ease voter accessibility following a rejected ballot. When a Colorado voter learns of a signature discrepancy on their ballot, they can simply text a provided phone number and receive a link to a customized webpage. Once the voter enters their voter identification number, they can simply sign a digital affidavit and submit a photo of an acceptable photo ID to complete the process. In a few minutes and conveniently on their phone, voters are assured that their ballot is cast and counted.
Associates in Action: CSG Associates Support Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief Efforts
By Sarahi Castillo
Several rounds of heavy rain moved across Eastern Kentucky from July 26 to July 30, causing torrential flooding and devasting damage. In the wake of the flooding, many CSG Associates have pledged to help donate and assist those in need of help. CSG is proud to highlight the excellent work that our Associates have contributed toward the relief in the wake of the catastrophic flooding.
AARP Kentucky has compiled a list of nonprofit organizations, government agencies, shelter organizations by county and helpful links to other groups that are accepting donations, organizing volunteers and offering supplies to victims and their families. Anyone affected by the storm can access AARP’s link via https://states.aarp.org/kentucky/disaster-response-resource-guide.
Amazon’s Disaster Relief Team responded to requests from- Save the Children, Feeding America, The American Red Cross and local organizations to donate over 580,000 relief items, including ready-to-eat meals, water, shelter items, solar chargers, lights, backpacks, pack-and-plays, strollers, baby tubs, baby carriers and diapers.
AT&T and the AT&T Foundation donated $50,000 to the Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief Fund and Volunteers of America. Their retail employees also provided phones and charging resources for use by residents who are housed at area shelters like Jackson command post, as well as hygiene kits. AT&T volunteers are supporting the Crisis Cleanup Hotline and FirstNet Response Operations Group by connecting residents with local relief organizations and first responders. Their FirstNet team deployed a combined total of 12 temporary mobile towers and generators to several Eastern Kentucky communities including Buckhorn Lake State Park in Perry County and the Knott County Community Center in Leburn to serve displaced residents and first responders. To further help individuals and families in the area, a text-to-give campaign was launched to collect donations for the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky Crisis Fund. AT&T is also waiving overage charges to provide unlimited talk, text, and data for affected customers.
HCA Healthcare has committed $400,000 for Kentucky flood relief efforts. They will contribute $100,000 to the American Red Cross, $100,000 to the Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief Fund, $100,000 in colleague matching gifts and relief grants to Galen College Nursing students with disaster needs and $100,000 through in-kind donations to meet critical community needs.
Procter & Gamble’s Response Team, in partnership with Matthew 25: Ministries, is mobilizing the “Tide Loads of Hope Mobile Laundry Unit” to support relief and recovery efforts by providing free, full-service laundry as well as distributing free personal care kits with everyday essentials such as cleaning products and hygiene products in affected areas.
Teladoc will be providing free, 24/7 general medical telehealth visits to residents, first responders and others. However, individuals who are displaced within the area due to the flooding can seek treatment from a licensed health care professional for non-emergency illness by calling 855-225-5032.
The American Bankers Association, or ABA, will be contributing $25,000 to support flood relief efforts in Kentucky. ABA is donating the $25,000 to the Kentucky Bankers Relief Fund established by the Kentucky Bankers Association and encouraging its members to donate as well. Money from the fund will assist flood victims including more than 20 bank employees directly affected by the disaster. This marks the second ABA contribution to help victims of natural disasters in Kentucky in less than a year. ABA contributed $50,000 to relief efforts after devastating tornadoes in Kentucky last December.
International Paper, McKesson Corp., Microsoft Corp., and Wells Fargo have donated as members of the Red Cross Annual Disaster Giving Program and the Disaster Responder Program, which helps enable the American Red Cross to prepare communities for disasters big and small, respond whenever and wherever disasters occur and help families during the recovery process.
Associates in Action articles highlight the philanthropic efforts and public-private partnerships of members of the CSG Associates Program, our consortium of private-sector entities, national trade associations and nonprofits that support the work of The Council of State Governments.
How State Leaders Can Improve Maternal Health Outcomes
By: Valerie Newberg
Despite advances in technology and policy substantially decreasing the risk of deaths associated with pregnancy in the 20th century, the U.S. is one of only a few countries with significant increases in maternal mortality in the 21st century.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines an instance of maternal mortality as a person dying during pregnancy or within 42 days of pregnancy from a cause that was not accidental or incidental. Maternal mortality is used by the World Health Organization to quantify the concept of maternal health and reflects the economic, social and public health conditions of mothers in a population. Maternal mortality also provides insight on disparities in care. The United States lags other developed nations, ranking 46th globally. Current data on maternal health, while imperfect, paints a troubling picture of inequity across American racial and ethnic groups, regions and states. The Department of Health and Human Services reports that Black and Indigenous Americans are 2-3 times more likely than white Americans to experience pregnancy-related mortality and rural mothers are increasingly likely to suffer from pregnancy-related morbidity and mortality due to decreases in rural hospital access. Maternal mortality rates are highly variable among the states. California has a rate of 10.2 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, just half of the U.S. average. Alabama currently has a rate of 36.2.
Despite these challenges, there is reason for hope: many instances of maternal mortality and morbidity are preventable when medical professionals have the resources to provide care before, during and after a pregnancy. Additionally, the Biden administration released its “White House Blueprint for Addressing the Maternal Health Crisis,” which includes a request for a $470 million budget to develop much-needed tools that will help states and local communities mitigate this issue. The blueprint aims at “cutting the rates of maternal mortality and morbidity, reducing the disparities in maternal health outcomes, and improving the overall experience of pregnancy, birth, and postpartum for people across the country.” The plan also makes clear that reforming the American maternal health system cannot be the burden of one person, agency or institution alone. Efforts must reflect collaboration between the federal and state governments to be truly effective and equitable.
As outlined in the blueprint, the federal government is taking several steps to help states improve pregnancy outcomes.
Increasing data collection efforts
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Levels of Care Assessment Tool creates “standardized assessments” of maternal care levels for policymakers in participating states.
- A review of Women, Infants, and Children participation and maternal health outcomes will provide state policymakers with robust information on the risk factors for maternal mortality and extreme morbidity.
Using equity as a guiding principle.
- Expansion of the Nurse Corps and Community Health Worker Training Program will bridge gaps in care for medically underserved communities, including rural areas, by providing additional resources for Health Professional Shortage Areas.
- Revision of guidelines will ensure rural and Indian Health Service medical facilities are prepared to care for pregnant people and mothers, even if those facilities do not have obstetric units.
- Utilization of self-monitored blood pressure regulation programs will assist those at risk for hypertensive disorders, which disproportionately impact pregnant people over 35 and Black and Indigenous mothers.
Encouraging state innovation.
- A Maternal Health Taskforce will focus on state-level data collection on maternal mortality and morbidity.
- The allocation of $9 million in new funding will support the integration of the State Maternal Health Innovation and Data Capacity Program in six more states.
- The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 provides a Medicaid expansion pathway option through the State Amendment Plan to guarantee Medicaid and Child Health Insurance Plan coverage for mothers 12 months postpartum, rather than the 60 days required under the Affordable Care Act.
Potential options for state responses include expanding current programs to promote equity and implementing an all-government approach that incorporates several agencies and programs.
- In Arkansas, the governor proposed initiatives expanding Medicaid-eligible pregnancy benefits to include home visits for those at high-risk for pregnancy complications and coverage for mothers who earn up to 212% of the federal poverty level.
- In Delaware, lawmakers passed a bill requiring doula services be covered under Medicaid. At-risk populations not receiving doula care are twice as likely to suffer from pregnancy complications as those with doula care. Those receiving doula care covered by Medicaid report lower levels of C-sections and premature birth.
- In Nevada, lawmakers passed a bill revising the responsibilities of the Maternal Mortality Review Committee to include collaboration with the Advisory Committee of the Office of Minority Health and Equity of the Department of Health and Human Services, a practice that allows the committee to better analyze racial, age and geographic disparities in maternal care.
As the Sept. 30 deadline for Congress to pass appropriations bills approaches, the Blueprint for Addressing the Maternal Health Crisis remains a valuable opportunity for Congress to prioritize state-federal partnerships. In the meantime, states have several options in place to address disparities in maternal health outcomes, including expanded Medicaid coverage, updated data collection and more comprehensive monitoring guidelines.
- The Commonwealth Fund: Tracking State Policies to Improve Maternal Health Outcomes
- The Harvard Chan School’s Center of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health: Maternal Health in the United States
The CSG Justice Center Welcomes Five New Leaders to Advisory Board
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Making an Impact
For 20 years, the CSG Justice Center has helped make diversion from the justice system more effective.Continue reading
Asked & Answered with Megan Quattlebaum, director of the CSG Justice Center
By Katy Albis and Amelia Vorpahl
Serving as the second director since the inception of the CSG Justice Center 20 years ago, Megan Quattlebaum brings experience and passion to her role in advancing sound criminal justice policy and practice across the country. Hear from Megan about her experience as director of the CSG Justice Center, what she recounts as some of her most significant accomplishments and what excites her about the future of the Justice Center.
What was it like starting in your position at the CSG Justice Center, and how have you seen the organization evolve over time — both internally and in its external work?
One thing that was exciting to me was being part of a membership organization with active participation from all 50 states. For many types of policy, but especially criminal justice, the states are central to what can and will happen. I also appreciated that CSG is a three-branch organization because each branch has a vital role to play in the conversation about criminal justice policy and practice. Even if you’re talking about legislation, you need the folks who are going to implement that legislation brought in and excited, so you know it can make it over the inevitable bumps in the road that come when you’re putting an idea into practice. I was also really excited about the CSG Justice Center being a bipartisan organization. Working in a consensus-based way is key to stability and sustainability.
Particularly over the past few years, we’ve taken steps to make sure we’re centering racial equity in all we do. Racial disparities in the criminal justice system exist in every jurisdiction whose data we’ve ever analyzed and at multiple decision points. It’s really exciting to see our members not accepting that but wanting to change it. We’re working hard to be ready to support them with data analysis and policy ideas responsive to this challenge. We’ve also looked inward to make sure that we’re working in a way that’s inclusive and inviting to colleagues of color and that we have a workplace that’s diverse, equitable and inclusive. We can’t help other folks and not work on those issues within our own organization.
In the end, we always try to be responsive to what states need in the current moment. Our commitment to consensus and finding out how we can serve and support our members in the states — those are things that have not changed and will not change.
You came on as director succeeding someone who founded the organization as it exists today and had been in the position for more than 15 years. How did you make that role your own?
Founding directors are tough acts to follow, and Mike Thompson even more so than most. I think everyone who knows Mike thinks he’s brilliant. With that in mind, I figured I had two choices: self-consciously compare myself to Mike and worry about whether I was measuring up or try to release the idea that measuring up to Mike was the job. I’m proud of myself for choosing the second path — at least 95% of the time — I’m human! I try to remember that his job was to build the organization we have today, while my job is to enrich and sustain it.
Every day, I try to picture two specific people in my mind: first, a person I know who has been involved with the criminal or juvenile justice systems — including those who have been victimized by a crime or committed one or worked in the system — and second, a person who works for us.
For the former, I try to make sure that we are giving everything we have to supporting the systems they’re in to be the best they can be. Lives depend on it. For the latter, I try to make sure we all remember that the most impactful career in service is not the one that burns hot for a few years and then burns out. We need to support people to do this work for a lifetime. And that means supporting them to support themselves — to take breaks, to spend time with family and friends, to enjoy this life.
What are some of the things you are most proud of from your time at the CSG Justice Center?
One thing I’m proud of is how we’ve modernized our approach to communications through things like our newsletters and virtual Justice Briefing Live events. We’ve made ourselves accessible to new audiences.
I’ve also been excited to add new skills that allow us to take our data analysis and research to the next level. For example, I see in our field an increasing recognition of the ways in which probation and parole outcomes drive prison admissions and populations. I think our research division and their work on revocations played a key part in that.
In terms of initiatives, I’m very excited about our new Reentry 2030 campaign. We’ve increasingly seen how important it is that states focus on building reentry systems and supports that are equitable. Having folks who have experienced reentry firsthand in this conversation from the beginning has been very important to help us remember that each person has unique needs and challenges.
Through the Justice Reinvestment Initiative and other programs, we can provide jurisdictions with data analysis in a really deep way. Justice Counts and other initiatives we’ve started recently, like Lantern, recognize that states need that up-to-date data about their systems not just over the course of a project with us, but every day.
How does the CSG Justice Center fit into the criminal justice policy landscape? What is its unique role?
One thing that is not as known about us is how much we partner with other organizations. We bring partner organizations into our projects to make sure they’re as rich and effective as they should be.
Another thing that makes us unique is tied into our 20th anniversary. If you look at our first publication — the “Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project” report — at the time it was issued, it was cutting-edge. While the conversation about the connections between the criminal justice system and folks with mental health needs is happening on a broader scale now, we were very early to that conversation.
From its earliest days, the CSG Justice Center was keyed into the message that you cannot and should not rely on the criminal justice system to solve all social problems. You need cross-systems partners at the table. We’ve invested in having a staff with interdisciplinary knowledge and skills from the beginning.
Tell us about your vision for the next chapter of the CSG Justice Center. What do you hope the next 20 years will bring?
Twenty years ago, people weren’t using the word ‘reentry.’ We have had a role in making ‘reentry’ a household word. I see our next 20 years as another two decades of making new things possible.
In 20 years, if we’ve done our jobs right, states will have accurate and up-to-date data to help drive their criminal justice decision-making in a way they don’t today. People experiencing a mental or behavioral health crisis will have multiple, easy-to-find pathways into treatment and supports that will help them stay safe and out of the justice system. And we’ll have found better ways to support the 95% of kids whose involvement with the juvenile justice system starts with a nonviolent offense.
I’m hopeful the culture of community supervision agencies will continue to evolve to focus on how best to support success, and that states will set specific goals around ensuring that when people leave prison, they are safely housed, connected to work and education and getting whatever treatment they need. I’m also optimistic that state programs that support people who have been victims of crime will be better positioned to reach the people who need those supports the most.
Any closing thoughts?
On a personal note, having the privilege of working with a group that is diverse in so many ways — race, gender, politics, geography, professional training — I now believe more than ever that leaders have to surround themselves with people who are different from them. If you’re not talking honestly with people who are different from you about the challenges your organization faces and potential solutions, you are making bad decisions.
Also, after more than four years in this role, I find that my respect and admiration for the CSG Justice Center’s staff, advisory board and partners somehow continue to grow. Even when I think I couldn’t possibly be more impressed, our team makes something seemingly impossible possible, and I’m in awe all over again. I am very lucky to be where I am.
Editor’s note: responses have been edited for length and clarity.
This article appeared in the CSG Capitol Ideas magazine (2022, Issue 4). View current and past issues at csg.org/publications/capitol-ideas.