As part of a wider effort led by the White House to advance racial equity, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Marcia Fudge has instructed the department to review programs and policies that may “pose barriers to housing for persons with criminal histories or their families” in order to make it easier for them to find a home, reports USA Today.
Staffers at HUD have six months to propose updates and amendments consistent with the directive to install policies that are as inclusive as possible, especially for people of color who have been historically overrepresented in the criminal justice system.
Changes would impact some of the agency’s most widespread programs, including federally funded public housing authorities and rental assistance voucher programs known as “Section 8.”
People with criminal records aren’t a protected class under the Fair Housing Act of 1968, which made it illegal to discriminate against people from renting or buying a home, securing a mortgage or seeking housing assistance on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability and familial status.
As a result, women, children, grandparents and siblings can be denied housing by private landlords if they live with a relative who has a criminal record.
Fudge said criminal records should be considered to the extent that applicants pose a current risk to people or property and these risks need to be weighed against other factors.