Housing Barriers & Criminal Records

Posted On: April 27, 2023

Chris Shirley

Housing barriers remain a significant obstacle for those with criminal records. Federal leaders are taking steps to ensure qualified people with a record have access to affordable housing. Moreover, Navigate has covered this topic several times in past #TuesdayTips. Now, The U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development plans to issue a new notice of proposed rule making. In this notice, leaders plan to change regulations to prevent unnecessary denials of housing assistance to people with criminal records.

“This Fair Housing Month and Second Chance Month, HUD recognizes that current criminal justice and housing policies have denied those seeking rehabilitation the ability a chance to lead better lives.”

Marcia L. Fudge – HUD Secretary

HUD Secretary, Marcia L. Fudge, goes on to say, “As we execute our action plan, I invite state and local housing agencies, owners, and property managers to partner with HUD to remove barriers to housing to people with criminal records and support people’s successful reentry to the community.” Fudge also points to research showing access to safe, and affordable housing increases the chance for successful reentry into American communities.

Housing Barrier Prevention

The announcement follows a comprehensive review to end housing barriers and increase access to affordable housing nationwide. The review found many HUD regulations could be improved following these best practices:

  • Not automatically denying an applicant housing assistance simply based on the presence of a criminal conviction, other than where explicitly prohibited by federal law.
  • Disregarding criminal history that is unlikely to bear on fitness for tenancy, such as arrest records, sealed or expunged records, older convictions, and convictions not involving violence or harm to persons or property.
  • Using individualized assessments to determine whether applicants truly pose a future risk to persons or property. Considered includes applicant’s employment, engagement in alcohol or drug treatment, and constructive community involvement.
  • Provide applicants with criminal history records with reasonable time and opportunity to provide supporting information before a decision is made.

Many housing providers and public housing agencies already follow these guiding principles while preserving the safety of their communities. Click here to learn more about HUD’s focus to remove housing barriers for those with criminal records.


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