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Coalition: HUD’s Plans Will Limit Access to Fair Housing & Second Chances for People with Criminal Records

November 4, 2019

A coalition of criminal justice groups issued a statement today voicing opposition to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) recent proposal to amend its so-called “disparate impact” rule under the Fair Housing Act. The disparate impact rule permitted people to bring legal claims against housing policies and practices that, while not motivated by discriminatory intent, predictably harmed protected groups, including people of color.

“We join together as diverse voices from the criminal justice field to strongly oppose HUD’s proposed rule regarding the disparate impact standard, a key tool used to enforce fair housing policies and practices across the country. If enacted, the rule change would limit access to fair housing for people with a criminal record and create yet another barrier for people who have paid their debts and are working hard to start a new life.

HUD’s current guidance recognizes that housing policies and practices that unduly burden people on the basis of their criminal records may be a violation of the Fair Housing Act because they disproportionately impact people of color. This may include creating a blanket ban or other exclusionary practices—including through housing applications or evictions— based on past arrest, including an arrest that doesn’t lead to a conviction or is expunged.

If enacted, the proposed change will make it harder for a person with a criminal history to take legal action and protect themselves if they were evicted or denied access to housing solely on the basis of their record. 

The vast majority of people currently incarcerated will eventually return home to their communities, and there are millions of people living in our neighborhoods now who are struggling to overcome the ongoing consequences of their conviction. We should be helping people along pathways to success, not creating new barriers in their way. A safe home is a key component of a meaningful second chance. 

The proposed rule is in direct conflict with the goals of the First Step Act, which was passed in December, as well as the widely accepted principle that we need to create more second chances for people with criminal records. 

We urge HUD to withdraw the proposed rule, and instead, continue to build on our collective progress towards creating a justice system that elevates our communities and makes them safer.”

Endorsing Organizations:

  • Association of Prosecuting Attorneys
  • Association of State Correctional Administrators
  • Center for American Progress
  • The Council of State Governments Justice Center
  • JustLeadershipUSA
  • National League of Cities
  • National Legal Aid & Defender Association