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New HUD Policy & Guidelines Regarding Criminal History Discrimination

Author: Dan Adams : Contact: Criminal Background Records

Published: 2015-12-28

Synopsis and Key Points:

Policy and guidance regarding criminal history information as part of tenants in public housing facilities vetting process.

Main Digest

Recently the Department of Housing and Urban Development released new policies and guidance to the use of criminal history information as part of the vetting process for new tenants in public housing facilities.

Adam Almeida, President and CEO of states:

"The new policy and guidelines from HUD clearly show the interest Washington has in cracking down on discrimination based on Criminal History and landlords should work with third party tenant screening companies in order to remain in compliance with existing and potential laws governing the use of tenant screening records."

From (Dec. 02, 15):

The federal housing department also issued new guidance that arrest records cannot be used as the basis for denying admission into public housing, terminating assistance or evicting tenants. (1)

Based on the President Obama's goal to assistance paroled or released criminals back into society the new guidelines are designed to ease reintegration of individuals into productive society and reduce recidivism.

Advocates for reform often argue that criminal records and CORI checks make it difficult for people to find jobs to get back on their feet, pay various fees accrued in jail and court and afford housing. The barriers, advocates contend, cause people to remain in a second-class status or fall back into same situations and behaviors that led them to crime. (2)

Adam Almeida, President and CEO of states:

"Just as Ban-the-box legislation and actions eventually moved from the public to private sectors, so too will the new policies enacted by HUD. Private rental groups may decide to move away from Criminal Records as part of the rental applicant vetting process. However, knowing that safety is one of the foremost concerns of landlords and property managers that desire to make this change could be a challenge. Criminal Records remain an important indicator of future behavior."

Another important change or modification with the HUD policy regards the classification of arrested versus conviction as a cause for eviction. Some advocates of the new policy remain critical of existing practices, which highlight the need for change.

From (Nov. 09, 15):

The other major announcement by HUD last week is the announcement that an arrest, on its own, does not count as criminal activity worthy of eviction or denial of admission ... However, the fact that public housing authorities (all of whom have attorneys on staff) have been utilizing arrest records to exclude people is yet another example of how thorough the discrimination has become. It starts in grade school and chases one to the grave. (3)

Changes in HUD policy may be a precursor to broader changes mandated upon the public sector.

Almeida states:

"Ultimately the action by HUD is a clear indication of the continued interest by the federal government over the fair and legal use of criminal records as part of a background, whether it is for tenant screening or pre-employment screening. As with recent Ban-the-box actions, where the question of criminal history is removed from the application, the question of criminal history may change regarding tenant applications. It is now obvious that all landlords and property managers should work with third-party tenant screening companies in order to remain compliant with existing and potential legislation governing the use of public records as part of a tenant vetting process." is a third-party tenant screening company whose highly trained staff can guide landlords and property managers through the various complexities of criminal records. Well versed in all aspects of tenant screening, can provide a highly efficient and cost-effective tenant background check package for properties large and small.





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