Sending Office: Honorable Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
We invite you to join as a co-sponsor the Fair Chance at Housing Act, which amends the Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act of 1998 by rolling back overly punitive screening and eviction policies to reduce homelessness and help ex-offenders find stable
For decades, the War on Crime and the War on Drugs have done far more harm than good, wreaking havoc on American families through mass incarceration while having a very limited impact on the crime rate and drug use in the U.S. Moreover, these efforts have
had profoundly disproportionate effects on minorities, who have historically been the primary target of harsh anti-crime and anti-drug policies and the unequal enforcement of these policies. The consequences of these now-debunked policies reach much farther
than the doors of our prisons and jails; a criminal background can have lifelong implications for a person’s ability to obtain housing, employment, education, and to otherwise rebuild their lives. Access to stable housing is one of the most import first steps
to rehabilitation and re-entry, but federal laws and regulations enacted decades ago continue to pose unnecessary and punitive barriers to federal housing assistance for those with criminal records.
This bill represents a comprehensive reform of the eviction and screening policies for federal housing assistance. It would roll back the harmful War on Crime and War on Drugs era policies that continue to unfairly threaten tenants with eviction for minor
crimes in the absence of sufficient evidence and continue to create unfair barriers to federal housing assistance for individuals who are trying to rebuild their lives.
Specifically, this bill would:
- Ban blanket “1-strike” policies, which allow tenants to be evicted for a single incident of criminal activity, no matter how minor, in favor of a holistic review;
- Ban “no-fault” policies, which allow an entire family to be evicted for criminal activity by a guest of a household member even without the knowledge of anyone in the household;
- Raise the standards of evidence to be used by public housing authorities (PHAs) and owners and require a holistic consideration of all mitigating circumstances when making screening or eviction determinations based on criminal activity;
- Ensure that tenants who are evicted for criminal activity and applicants who are denied admission for criminal activity are given adequate written notice of the reasons for the decision, and the opportunity to present mitigating evidence or appeal a decision;
- Prohibit the use of drug and alcohol testing by owners and PHAs;
- Provide PHAs with additional administrative funding for helping to house ex-offenders through the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program; and
Lastly, by preserving the ability of PHAs and owners to protect the health and safety of their properties, while simultaneously rolling back unjustified policies, this bill would reduce recidivism by helping ex-offenders find stable housing upon exiting
a jail or prison. It would also help prevent homelessness by ensuring that individuals and households currently receiving federal housing assistance are not unfairly evicted.
If you would like to be added as a cosponsor, please contact Claudia Pagon Marchena
This bill is supported by the following organizations: National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), National Urban League (NUL), National Low Income Housing Coalition, National Housing Law Project, JustLeadershipUSA,
Legal Action Center, National Association of Social Workers (NASW), Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, Human Rights Watch, National Alliance on Mental Illness, Coalition for Juvenile Justice, National Alliance to End Homelessness, National LGBTQ
Task Force, Corporation for Supportive Housing, The Fortune Society, Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Housing Task Force , Public Justice Center, Drug Policy Alliance, Campaign for Youth Justice, GNO Fair Housing Center, The Prisoner Reentry Institute
at John Jay College, Neighborhood Defender Services of Harlem, College & Community Fellowship, Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, Inc.
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