Jeff Green 0

End Housing Discrimination Against People With Criminal Records

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W believe we should end housing discrimination against people with criminal records. Crime Free housing should be defined by how people live today, and not what they have done in their pasts.

Finding safe, affordable, and stable housing is a cornerstone of successful re-entry. Housing remains elusive for people with a criminal history and there is a disparate impact to people of color. We must ensure that people leaving jails and prisons are provided access to housing or we will pay over $60,000 a year to house them in a local jail. Without access to housing, people with criminal records are unable to take steps necessary to successfully reintegrate into our communities. This is especially true for African-Americans and others who are overrepresented in the criminal justice system.

HUD allows broad discretion to the local PHA in terms of how they establish policy to address the housing needs of people when criminal backgrounds are at issue. By comparing Riverside County Housing Authority policies to the HUD requirements it is clear that Riverside County’s overly restrictive, and extremely vague, policies are having a negative impact on its’ ability to provide subsidized housing to a significant segment of the current homeless population. HUD Secretary Julián Castro said on NPR, “we want to ensure that folks who have an arrest record or conviction get an effective second chance in life. And we believe that the opportunity to secure an affordable, decent place to live is one part of that effective second chance. So we put guidance out that basically says, if you're a landlord that you cannot have a blanket policy that anybody with an arrest or conviction record is automatically not going to be considered for an apartment or a home”.

Riverside County’s “Zero Tolerance” policy is a long way from that of HUD’s recommendations. The Formerly Incarcerated & Convicted People’s Movement, Voice of the Ex-Offender, National Employment Law Project, Tulane University Law School and The Brennan Center for Justice have developed a model PHA policy. Below is a comparison of Riverside’s policy and the model.

I strongly support the County of Riverside’s Public Housing Authority adopting a more reasoned and effective policy that will not pose discriminatory barriers to receiving housing assistance. Effective housing policies will reduce homelessness, lower recidivism, and significantly improve public safety.

We urge Riverside County to:

• Decrease Criminal Look Back Period to 3 Years

• Increase Affordable Housing Units/Availability

• Create housing reentry solutions for returning resident

Riverside County’s Current Policy:

Model PHA Policy:

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