A recent HUD notice states arrest records can not be used or relied upon when terminating assistance, denying admission and/or serving eviction notices. HUD is committed to making available second chances to those previously imprisoned while ensuring that those individuals are not denied HUD subsidized housing due to erroneous or inaccurate evidence of a criminal past or arrest records. As a response to housing providers and potential tenants who have requested guidance over the correct use of arrest records for housing decisions. For these reasons the notice has been issued.
Asides from the reference to arrest records it also serves to remind PHA’s (Public Housing Agencies) and rental owners that there is no requirement by HUD for them to adopt the “One Strike” policy. Also to further remind owners and PHA’s of their obligations to ensure safeguarding of tenants and applicant’s due process rights. The directive from November 2 is hoped to reduce recidivism. The U.S. has around 100 million individuals with arrest records of some description. Those released from prison (federal and state) number around 600,000 every year. HUD sees the greatest risk of recidivism as the lack of opportunity to housing.
The past 5 years has seen HUD an active participant in the Federal Inter agency Re-entry Council. This is a council comprising over 23 Federal Agencies which regularly meets to take action over issues affecting those with arrest records and recently released. The council carries out positive work in implementing measures to embrace every Federal Agency and, in turn, specifically address “collateral consequences” which families and individuals might face due to the blight of arrest records and incarceration.
HUD is committed to an objective that provides second chances to those prior imprisoned individuals that have been denied access to subsidized housing as a result of incomplete, inaccurate or otherwise erroneous information. The notice is for guidance to prospective tenants and housing providers as to the correct use of arrest records in housing decisions.
Owners and PHA’s must ensure that they are compliant and consistent with The Fair Housing Act. All screening, termination of assistance and eviction procedures comply with all applicable civil rights requirements. Also Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 along with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Owners and PHA’s should have protocols in place that ensure they are consistent in their standards and decisions are arrived at from accurate information.
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