HUD will propose clearer rules shortly. Once finalized, they’ll help the RE industry comply with the Fair Housing Act and be the standard for gov’t-assisted housing.
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) says it will issue a Notice of Proposed Rule Making within the next few weeks regarding rentals to people with a criminal history.
HUD plans to update regulations that public housing agencies and HUD-subsidized providers must follow regarding criminal histories. The goal, HUD says, is to prevent unnecessary denials of housing assistance.
In addition to mandatory compliance from HUD-backed housing, the rules will also help public housing agencies (PHAs) and HUD-affiliated owners comply with the Fair Housing Act.
“Black and Brown people, other people of color, and people with disabilities are disproportionately involved in the criminal justice system,” HUD said in announcing the planned rule changes. “As a result, policies that unnecessarily deny housing because of a criminal history record can violate the Fair Housing Act of 1968, pursuant to the discriminatory effects rule that HUD recently reinstated.”
HUD also says it will be “stepping up Fair Housing investigations and enforcement” once the reforms are in place.
“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,” says HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge.
“A year ago, I called on HUD programs to conduct a policy review of ways that we can remove barriers to safe, affordable housing for people with criminal history records,” Fudge adds. “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.”
The announcement follows a review of HUD regulations, policies and guidance geared toward increasing opportunities for qualified individuals and families to receive HUD assistance. The review found that many HUD regulations and sub-regulatory provisions could be improved and clarified.
HUD regulation review recommendations
- Don’t automatically deny housing assistance based on the presence of a criminal conviction, other than where explicitly prohibited by federal law.
- Disregard 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.
- Assess individuals on a case-by-case basis to determine whether they pose a future risk to persons or property. Take into account other factors, such as the applicant’s employment, engagement in alcohol or drug treatment programs, and their community involvement.
- Give applicants with a criminal history reasonable time and opportunity to provide supporting information about mitigating factors.
In addition to updating rules, HUD also plans to provide new tools and technical assistance on HUD programs that can support a successful reentry from prisons and jails.
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