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Reports and Manuals
Since 1975, federal regulations have instructed Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) to consider the criminal history of applicants for public housing as it relates to physical violence to persons or property or other criminal acts that would affect the health, safety or welfare of other residents. As a result, most PHAs have adopted broad screening policies that call for the rejection of applicants with unfavorable criminal histories. This discretion is limited in several ways. For example, fair housing laws make blanket bans based on criminal history illegal. NHLP’s manual, An Affordable Home on Reentry, is a comprehensive guide on admissions policies in the federally subsidized housing programs as they relate to people who have come in contact with the criminal justice system.
When Discretion Means Denial: A National Perspective on Criminal Records Barriers to Federally Subsidized Housing, Marie Claire Tran-Leung, Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law
When Discretion Means Denial reviews over 300 tenant screening policies related to criminal records for the public housing and Voucher programs across the country. Its findings include four areas where Public Housing Agencies and project owners are most likely to abuse their discretion in setting admissions policies. The report urges HUD to address the problem and recommends placing limits on the discretion allowed by PHAs when implementing tenant screening practices related to criminal records.
Unlocking Discrimination is the Equal Rights Center’s unprecedented investigation into the experiences of women of color with a criminal record in the housing application process. The study utilized fair housing testing methodology to evaluate whether African American and white testers with similar criminal backgrounds were treated differently because of their race. The study has several significant findings including that many housing providers employ discriminatory tenant screening practices based on race. The report makes policy recommendations consistent with these findings.
Fair Housing Disparate Impact Claims Based on the Use of Criminal and Eviction Records in Tenant Screening Policies, Merf Ehman, Columbia Legal Services
A comprehensive guide on disparate impact claims under the Fair Housing Act due to the use of criminal or eviction records by landlords and tenant screening companies.