Washington, D.C. — 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.
In a recent CAP report, “One Strike and You’re Out,” Rebecca Vallas and Sharon Dietrich address how mass incarceration and criminal records serve as underappreciated drivers of poverty and inequality in America by presenting barriers to employment, housing, education and training, building good credit, and more. In a follow-up report titled “Removing Barriers to Opportunity for Parents With Criminal Records and Their Children,” CAP analysis estimates that nearly one in two U.S. children now have at least one parent with a criminal record. The two reports together offer a road map of policy recommendations—including guidance like that released by HUD today—to ensure that Americans with criminal records have a fair shot at making a decent living, providing for their families, and joining the middle class.
- One Strike and You’re Out: How We Can Eliminate Barriers to Economic Security and Mobility for People with Criminal Records by Rebecca Vallas and Sharon Dietrich
- An Opportunity Agenda for Renters: The Case for Simultaneous Investments in Residential Mobility and Low-income Communities by David Sanchez, Tracey Ross, and Julia Gordon, with Sarah Edelman, Michela Zonta, and Andrew Schwartz
- Removing Barriers to Opportunity for Parents With Criminal Records and Their Children: A Two-Generation Approach by Rebecca Vallas, Melissa Boteach, Rachel West, and Jackie Odum
- Infographic: Criminal Records Are a Family Sentence by Rebecca Vallas, Melissa Boteach, Rachel West, and Jackie Odum
- 8 Facts You Should Know About the Criminal Justice System and People of Color by Jamal Hagler
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