Skip to main content
Advancing justice and opportunity
Menu ≡

National Report Finds Pervasive Use of Restrictive Admission Policies to Deny Housing to People with Criminal Records

February 11, 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Michelle Nicolet, 312.368.2675

National Report Finds Pervasive Use of Restrictive Admission Policies
to Deny Housing to People with Criminal Records

HUD Should Eliminate Barriers to Housing for People with Criminal Records

A new report from the Shriver Center, When Discretion Means Denial: A National Perspective on Criminal Records Barriers to Federally Subsidized Housing, urges the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)--to take active steps to eliminate barriers to housing for people who have had contact with the criminal justice system. 

HUD provides wide latitude to owners of housing it funds, including public housing authorities and project-based Section 8 owners, to deny housing to people with criminal records, including those individuals who have only been arrested. Overly restrictive policies against people with criminal records have serious consequences for those individuals, including homelessness, and are a potential violation of their civil rights. Although HUD has encouraged housing owners since 2012 to use their discretion to admit individuals with criminal records, this has done little to change these restrictive policies. 

Based on a review of over 300 written admissions policies from across the country, the report identifies four areas where criminal records policies are overly restrictive: (1) use of long look back periods for determining whether past criminal activity is relevant; (2) use of arrests without subsequent conviction as proof of past criminal activity; (3) use of overbroad categories of criminal activity; and (4) underuse of mitigating circumstances as a means for overcoming denials. The report urges HUD to issue guidance to curb unduly restrictive policies. 

“Public housing authorities and project owners have long abused the discretion given by HUD to set admission policies covering criminal records,” said Marie Claire Tran-Leung, the report’s author. Kate Walz, Director of Housing Justice at the Shriver Center, concurred. “We urge HUD to issue guidance to curb unduly restrictive policies that prevent people with criminal records from securing safe and affordable housing,” said Walz.

The report is available at http://povertylaw.org/wdmd.

The Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law provides national leadership in advancing laws and policies that secure justice to improve the lives and opportunities of people living in poverty. We specialize in practical solutions. We advocate for and serve clients directly, while also building the capacity of the nation’s legal aid providers to advance justice and opportunity for their clients. 

####


The Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law provides national leadership in advancing laws and policies that secure justice to improve the lives and opportunities of people living in poverty. We specialize in practical solutions. We advocate for and serve clients directly, while also building the capacity of the nation’s legal aid providers to advance justice and opportunity for their clients. www.povertylaw.org

Download this
↑ Go up to the top.