NLIHC submitted on September 27 a statement for the record for the September 28 congressional hearing, “Access Denied: Eliminating Barriers and Increasing Economic Opportunity for Justice-Involved Individuals.” The hearing, hosted by House Financial Services Subcommittee on Diversity and Inclusion Chair Joyce Beatty (D-OH), examined the many barriers to housing and opportunity faced by people exiting incarceration and those with histories of conviction.
In the statement, NLIHC encourages Congress and the Biden-Harris administration to work together to reduce barriers facing tenants with a conviction history in obtaining safe, stable housing. Recommendations include enacting the “Fair Chance at Housing Act,” which would require public housing agencies (PHAs) and owners of HUD-assisted housing to perform an individualized review of each applicant when considering the totality of circumstances and conviction history during the tenant screening process. Housing providers would be required to consider mitigating evidence of past convictions when presented by the applicant and would be barred from enacting harmful “one-strike” eviction policies that can result in the displacement of an entire family for even minor criminal activity from a single member of the household.
NLIHC also says in the statement that HUD should update its Public Housing Occupancy Guidebook and admission policies for Public and Indian Housing (PIH) to limit the discretion of public housing agencies in screening out potential tenants with a conviction history and mitigate collateral consequences of a conviction history. Moreover, the statement points out that policies disproportionately impacting justice-involved people may also violate federal Fair Housing Act provisions, noting that “the systemic bias inherent to the criminal-legal system has led Black, Latino, and Native people, as well as people with disabilities and members of the LGBTQ community, to be disproportionately impacted by [barriers to housing].”
Read NLIHC’s statement at: tinyurl.com/t5zeajbw
Watch a recording of the hearing at: tinyurl.com/5ykuvt54