HUD’s new guidance on criminal records in housing is a great step for second chances, Says CAP’s Carmel Martin

April 05, 2016
The Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, released guidance on Monday for landlords and sellers on consideration of criminal records in housing, making it clear that blanket bans on renting or selling to anyone with a criminal record constitute illegal discrimination in violation of the Fair Housing Act.
     This measure will go a long way toward giving returning citizens and all Americans with criminal records a fair shot at securing safe and stable housing for themselves and their families. Carmel Martin, Executive Vice President for Policy at the Center for American Progress, issued the following statement in response: We commend HUD Secretary Julián Castro for taking this important step to enable Americans with criminal records to have a second chance.
     As CAP has shown, having even a minor criminal record can present lifelong barriers to the basic building blocks of economic security and mobility—including housing, as four in five landlords use criminal background checks on potential tenants. This has broad implications—not only for the individuals who find themselves unable to find housing but also for their families, as nearly half of U.S. children now have a parent with a criminal record. Having a criminal record remains a major driver of poverty and racial inequality.
     Moreover, access to safe and stable housing is critical to successful re-entry—and is a powerful anti-recidivism tool. By ensuring that American families have a fair shot at securing housing, this measure has the potential to address housing discrimination, keep families together, and save taxpayer dollars in the form of reduced incarceration costs—all while increasing public safety.