Roughly 2,000 inmates return to communities each day in the U.S. Unsuccessful re-entry jeopardizes community safety, promotes re-incarceration, and increases costs to taxpayers to support the criminal justice apparatus. Research indicates that strong networks of support reduce recidivism, but most communities remain ill-equipped to successfully support former offenders. Our community partner, Unlocking DOORS in Dallas, Texas, is a re-entry brokerage firm that coordinates services including housing, mental and physical health services, job retraining, transportation, and parole or probation obligations. This, like most re-entry service providers, assists former offenders navigating a patchwork of logistical hurdles including individual offender obligations, scarce offender resources, and critical (often mandated) mental health services. Transportation has been identified as a major barrier to successful re-entry and a barrier to all environmental justice (EJ) populations needing to access services.
While many EJ populations face mobility challenges and constraints, this particular group faces some of the most significant barriers. The transportation network and transportations services provide the mobility necessary for this population to re-enter society. As a result, housing and/or services must be located with the transportation system in mind. This project develops a facility location problem for both housing and services that seeks to minimize the average travel time while using a maximum travel time as a constraint in the formulation. The mathematical formulation will work with the community partner to determine a reasonable set of constraints and typical travel needs of this population. Given the typical path to re-entry one can assume that most of this population will need to utilize public transportation services. This framework may be extended to other populations with less severe constraints to optimize the locations of housing and services for the disabled, homeless and public assisted housing projects.