Removing Criminal Records as a Housing Barrier

People Criminal Records Will
Have Fair Housing Opportunity

Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA), Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee, introduced the “Fair Chance at Housing Act of 2016” (H.R. 5085) that would take significant steps towards ensuring people with criminal records have meaningful access to housing.

Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) has cosponsored the bill.

“The current harsh policies for housing assistance are a direct result of the harmful and ineffective legacies of the War on Drugs and the War on Crime. Far too many Americans now carry a criminal record that limits their opportunities throughout life, despite the fact that they have successfully rehabilitated or taken great strides to change their lives. In particular, it has restricted access to housing assistance, which is a critical part of the rehabilitation and reentry process. The reforms in this bill will help ex-offenders get back on their feet, while ensuring that public housing authorities and owners maintain the authority to ensure the safety of other residents.”

Ms. Waters said.

Ms. Waters circulated a “dear colleague” letter asking her fellow representatives to support the bill.

“This bill is a smarter and safer approach to both fair housing and public safety. It would help reduce recidivism and prevent homelessness by helping ex-offenders find stable housing upon exiting a jail or prison, and by ensuring that individuals and households currently receiving federal housing assistance are not unfairly evicted.”

Ms. Waters wrote.

To date, the bill has five additional cosponsors:

“We applaud Representative Waters for her bold actions in addressing the housing barriers faced by people with criminal records. This bill will ensure that people who have served their time will have an opportunity to rejoin their families and communities and make the most of their second chance.”

Said NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel.

Representative Waters’ Press Release

Representative Waters’ Dear Colleague Letter

NLIHC Blog Post

NLIHC Press Release