The public has had an opportunity to digest and comment on amendments to the HANO criminal background check procedure. New directives would ensure those convicted of a serious crime would have their voice heard. Serious crime takes in kidnapping, armed robbery and murder. A 3 member panel would review their cases to reside in public housing or be in receipt of Section 8 vouchers. What underpins the revised criminal background check policy is to provide stability and to embrace their families again. Also to reduce recidivism of which secure housing has been a major contributing factor. Currently individuals can be refused assistance with housing on certain grounds. That being if any criminal activity has been recorded against the individual or a family member.

A Housing Authority of New Orleans initiative would ease the passage to public housing for those with less serious offenses. The policy met with mixed reviews yet urged HANO to take extra strides to achieve their goal. A final decision is expected next week. February initially saw the unveiling of the amendments to the criminal background check policy. However the HANO plan has been kicking around for some 3 years previous. A pledge was made by the agency to remove obstacles to public housing, The change to the criminal background check policy was not outlined until this year under a new administration.

Interestingly a move to open public housing to offenders was resisted back in mid 2015. For individuals who require more scrutiny the three member panel would consider employment and community ties. They will also consider rehab treatment (drug and alcohol) along with criminal histories. Those individuals can have an attorney mediate with the panel or appear in person. A right to appeal is also available. HANO will also request that 3rd party housing agents/managers engage with the amended HANO criminal background check policy. This in place of the screening methods currently used. Some agencies though may not be obliged contractually but will be encouraged to do so and is not mandatory. However executive director of the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center advised, after reviewing existing contracts, that there would be very little that would prevent the revised policy from being mandatory. For further reading refer to previous post New Orleans Housing For Rent Racial Bias and Disparity.

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