A proposed rule would allow fair housing testers – volunteers who look for housing discrimination – to have prior convictions.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) extended its public comment period for a new rule that would allow fair-housing testers with criminal convictions to determine if landlords turn away renters based on criminal history.
HUD extended its comment period for its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking by nine days to Jan. 11. HUD said it’s extending the period from Jan. 2 because some have requested additional time to review the proposal and provide feedback.
HUD said the new rule is necessary to ensure public housing agencies and HUD-affiliated owners are following best practices, including:
- 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.
“This proposed rule would make HUD’s programs as inclusive as possible for people with criminal records, consistent with Secretary Marcia Fudge’s April 12, 2022, Memorandum, “Eliminating Barriers That May Unnecessarily Prevent Individuals with Criminal Histories from Participating in HUD Program,” HUD said. “It would also ensure that FHIP (Fair Housing Initiatives Program) and FHAP (Fair Housing Assistance Program)-funded entities are able to fully investigate criminal background screening policies that are potentially discriminatory under federal civil rights laws by using testers with actual criminal backgrounds.”
Public comments can be submitted electronically or by mail at Regulations Division, Office of General Counsel, Department of Housing and Urban Development, 451 7th Street SW, Room 10276, Washington, DC 20410–0500.
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