The manual describes the admissions processes for the major housing programs and the steps for challenging a denied application.
It also provides guidance to help advocates influence local policies and practices to expand housing opportunities for people involved in the criminal justice system.
The revised manual features live links and improved navigation. It covers updates in law and policy including:
Federal statutes and regulations governing admissions and continued occupancy for individuals with a criminal record.
Protections for applicants under fair housing and other civil rights laws.
Housing providers’ access to and use of criminal records and drug rehabilitation information.
Consumer protections for housing applicants and a detailed look at private criminal history reports.
A roadmap for advocates seeking to change or improve local housing authority admissions policies.
Examples of partnerships between housing authorities and service providers to create housing opportunities.
Policy strategies to address the housing needs of individuals with criminal records.
The National Housing Law Project’s (NHLP) mission is to advance housing justice for poor people and communities. It achieves this by strengthening and enforcing the rights of tenants, increasing housing opportunities for under-served communities, and preserving and expanding the nation’s supply of safe and affordable homes.
NHLP established its Reentry Initiative in an effort to increase access to federally assisted housing for people who have come in contact with the criminal justice system.
For many individuals returning to the community, federally assisted housing is the only option for decent and affordable shelter. Harsh admission policies, however, often prevent people with a criminal record from obtaining such housing. NHLP advocates for public housing authorities and private owners of federally assisted housing to adopt more flexible admission policies and to set aside units for individuals returning to the community.
According to the campaign: “Individuals transitioning out of the criminal justice system need a good place to call home so that they can reconnect with society and rebuild their lives.”
People with criminal records encounter many housing obstacles according to Opportunity Starts at Home, which shared the following quote linking homelessness and incarceration:
“Studies have shown that formerly incarcerated individuals experience high rates of homelessness, and in some urban areas an estimated 30% to 50% of people on parole have no place to call home. Research has also shown that formerly incarcerated individuals who cannot find stable affordable housing are more likely to recidivate than those who do. With so many tenants and so few rental units available to low income households, landlords often use criminal background checks to narrow the applicant pool for their housing. These housing practices and policies disproportionately impact people of color and people with disabilities, as these persons are over-represented in the U.S. criminal justice system.”