The first letter was sent on June 17, 2011 to Public Housing Authorities (PHAs). By reminding PHAs of their considerable discretion in admissions, the letter provides important clarification, as many PHAs currently have overly restrictive policies that exclude nearly anyone with a criminal record. Before this letter was issued, National People’s Action (NPA), with NHLP’s support, sent a letter to Secretary Donovan, encouraging HUD to offer new guidance to PHAs. The June 17th letter partially adopted two of the recommendations to explain and clarify current law, but HUD failed to make any of the other proposed changes. While Secretary Donovan’s letter is an important step forward in eliminating barriers that prevent ex-offenders from re-entering society, much work remains.
On March 14, 2012, Secretary Donovan and Acting FHA Commissioner Carol Galante sent a letter to owners and agents of HUD-assisted properties emphasizing the importance of providing stable housing to formerly incarcerated individuals. This letter asks HUD-assisted property owners to allow ex-offenders to rejoin the community to the extent that a balance between reuniting ex-offenders with their families and ensuring the safety of all residents can be maintained.