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NLIHC Statement on HUD’s Notice of Proposed Rule Making Eliminating Unnecessary Barriers to HUD-Assisted Housing for People with Conviction Histories

Washington, D.C. – HUD today released a preview of a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) to make substantive updates to the Department’s guidance to owners and operators of HUD-assisted housing on screening potential tenants with conviction or arrest records. The guidance would eliminate unnecessary barriers to HUD-assisted housing that too often prevent people exiting incarceration and those with conviction histories from accessing stable, affordable housing upon release. The proposed rule will be officially published tomorrow.

“The Biden-Harris administration has done tremendous work advancing tenant rights and racial justice, and today’s announcement offers another important step towards those goals by ensuring systems-impacted people are given a fair shot at a second chance,” said NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel. “Access to affordable, stable housing helps individuals gain employment, advance their education, and ultimately thrive after incarceration. While there is no evidence suggesting barriers to housing for formerly incarcerated and convicted people increase public safety, there is ample evidence supporting the cycle between incarceration, homelessness, and recidivism. Our communities are safer and stronger when everyone has a place to call home.”

The NPRM is part of former HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge’s directive to review HUD regulations, guidance, and policies and identify unnecessary barriers to housing access for formerly incarcerated and convicted individuals and their families. The April release also coincides with Fair Housing Month and Second Chance Month. The NPRM would require that owners and operators of HUD-assisted housing perform an individualized assessment of potential tenants with a conviction history, taking into account mitigating factors like the length of time since the conviction, the nature and severity of the conviction, and what the applicant has done since the conviction.

Systemic and individual racism has caused Black, Latino, and Native people to be unfairly targeted and disproportionately impacted by the criminal-legal system. They are also more likely to be impacted by screening criteria that unfairly deny people access to housing because of a history of conviction or arrest. Without a safe, affordable place to return to, people exiting incarceration are at a significantly increased risk of homelessness and reincarceration as communities across the country move to arrest or fine those experiencing homelessness. People who have been incarcerated once are seven times more likely to experience homelessness than the general population, while those who have been incarcerated more than once are 13 times more likely to experience homelessness. 

The NPRM will be open to public comment for 60 days. In the coming weeks, NLIHC and other leaders of the Partnership for Just Housing (PJH) will encourage people with lived experience and other advocates to provide feedback on the proposal. PJH is a working group co-led by NLIHC and the Shriver Center on Poverty Law, along with the National Housing Law Project (NHLP) and the Formerly Incarcerated, Convicted People and Families Movement (FICPFM). PJH advocates for increased access to HUD-assisted housing for formerly incarcerated and convicted people and their families, while centering the needs and voices of directly impacted people. 

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