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HUD has announced plans to issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which will make it easier for those with criminal records to qualify for subsidized housing.

The announcement follows a comprehensive review of HUD regulations, policies and guidance geared toward increasing opportunities for qualified individuals and families to receive housing assistance from HUD.

According to a recent press release, the proposed rules include:

  • Not automatically denying an applicant housing assistance simply based on the presence of a criminal conviction, other than where explicitly prohibited by federal law.
  • Disregarding criminal history that is unlikely to bear on fitness for tenancy, such as arrest records, sealed or expunged records, older convictions and convictions not involving violence or harm to persons or property.
  • Using individualized assessments to determine whether applicants truly pose a future risk to persons or property, taking into account other factors, such as the applicant’s employment, engagement in alcohol or drug treatment and constructive community involvement.
  • Providing applicants with criminal history records with reasonable time and opportunity to provide supporting information regarding mitigating factors before an admission decision is made.
HUD’s Rationale

“HUD’s forthcoming actions also will help PHAs and HUD-affiliated owners comply with the Fair Housing Act. Black and Brown people, other people of color, and people with disabilities are disproportionately involved in the criminal justice system …. To ensure these reforms are successfully implemented, HUD is also stepping up Fair Housing investigations and enforcement.”

HUD will also provide new tools and technical assistance on ways that HUD programs can support the successful reentry to the community from prisons and jails. For example, HUD will highlight communities that are using Community Development Block Grants to provide reentry services and programs, including counseling and legal assistance, and PHAs that are partnering to provide housing assistance to people reentering the community. HUD will also highlight ways that Emergency Solutions Grants and Continuum of Care Program grants can create models of housing to address homelessness among formerly incarcerated people.”

What’s Next?

In the upcoming weeks, HUD will introduce rulemaking and establish a process for individual assessments of individuals with criminal records and also create guidelines for public housing authorities.

Joe Miksch is the Public Relations and Marketing Manager for US Housing Consultants.