HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge issued a directive on April 12 instructing the agency to review and identify internal policies and procedures that may increase barriers to housing access for people impacted by the criminal-legal system. Within the next six months, agency staff must review existing HUD guidance, regulations, and sub-regulatory documents and suggest needed changes to ensure increased access to federally assisted housing for those with conviction records.
“As we seek to implement an equity agenda, it is incumbent upon all of us to ensure that, to the full extent permitted by law, we are administering HUD programs in an inclusive way and that we are requiring and encouraging our program partners to be similarly inclusive,” said Secretary Fudge. “By ensuring that our regulatory language and guidance documents about when and how criminal records may and should be used – or not used – to select or terminate tenants are as inclusive as possible, we are informing our funding recipients about best practices for complying with all relevant laws, including civil rights laws, and ensuring a more equitable future for the beneficiaries of HUD programs.”
A criminal record poses a significant barrier to obtaining safe, stable housing and places impacted individuals at increased risk of housing instability, homelessness, and ultimately recidivism. There are relatively few federal admissions prohibitions for assisted housing, giving Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) and owners of federally assisted housing broad discretion when evaluating prospective tenants.
HUD also released a new webpage with resources to help Continuums of Care (CoCs) – regional entities responsible for coordinating homelessness services – collaborate with legal system partners to increase access to affordable housing for people exiting incarceration.
Read the directive here.