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HUD To Remove Unnecessary Barriers To Housing For People With Criminal Records With Its New Action Plan

HUD establishes a process for individualized assessments and outlines guidelines for Public Housing Authorities to stop denying housing access to people because of their criminal records. Public Housing authorities are asked to review current processes by HUD’s secretary.

April 24, 2023

Washington- Marcia L Fudge, HUD’s Secretary announced further steps HUD will take to ensure that qualified people are not denied access to housing due to their criminal record. HUD is about to issue a Notice of proposed rulemaking in the coming weeks in which it proposes to change its regulations governing Public Housing Agencies and HUD subsidized housing providers to prevent them from denying housing assistance to people with criminal records.

Guidance and technical assistance will be provided by HUD to assist PHAs and HUD-affiliated owners to determine the relevant convictions related to health and safety and also how to conduct individualized assessments when reviewing criminal history records. Besides this, HUD will also encourage grantees, PHAs, and Housing owners to use HUD programs to provide housing services to the community which in turn enhances public safety by providing them with the desired technical assistance.

HUD’s Secretary, Marcia L. Fudge says, “ This Fair Housing month and second chance month, HUD recognizes that current criminal justice and housing policies have denied those seeking rehabilitation a chance to lead better lives”. Marcia L. Fudge also conducted a policy review of ways that can remove barriers to safe and affordable housing for people having criminal records. She invites local and state housing agencies to partner with HUD and remove barriers to housing for people with criminal records. She also urges agencies and communities to support these people’s re-entry.

The comprehensive review of HUD’s regulations, policies, and guidance strived to increase opportunities for qualified individuals and families so that they can receive housing assistance from HUD. According to the review, many of HUD’s regulations and sub-regulatory provisions can be improved and clarified to ensure that PHAs and HUD-affiliated owners utilize the best practices such as:

-Not denying housing assistance to the applicant based on a criminal conviction.
-Disregarding criminal history to bear on fitness for tenancy. It may include arrest records, older convictions, and convictions not harming persons or property.
-Providing applicants with criminal history records so that they can provide supporting information regarding mitigating factors before the decision is made.

The housing providers and Public Housing Agencies have already implemented these principles and have improved the public safety of their communities. HUD has issued new guidance to assist the PHAs and HUD-affiliated owners to apply these principles.

HUD will also make sure that PHAs and HUD-affiliated owners comply with the Fair Housing Act and do not discriminate on the basis of criminal records. The people involved in the criminal injustice system are primarily people of color and people with disabilities. Consequently, policies denying housing because of a criminal record tend to violate the Fair Housing Act of 1968. HUD is stepping up Fair Housing investigations and enforcement to ensure the implementation of these reforms. Fair Housing staff and grantees get plenty of complaints due to discrimination on the grounds of race, disability, or other issues.

HUD will also provide new tools and technical assistance on ways in which HUD programs can support people’s reentry into the community from prisons along with addressing barriers to HUD housing assistance. For instance, HUD will highlight communities using the community development block grants and counseling and legal assistance to provide desired housing assistance to people. Besides this, how Emergency Solutions Grants and the Continuum of Care Program will create housing models to address homelessness will also be highlighted by HUD. All these approaches will make the communities stronger and safer than before.

Last Updated: September 20, 2021