Sending Office: Honorable Yvette D. Clarke
No Biometric Barriers to Housing Act of 2019
Supporting Organizations: NAACP, National Housing Law Project
With the emergence of new biometric technologies, some landlords are looking to use facial recognition systems to grant residents access to their building. We have already seen the installation in the entry and exit ways of public housing units. Given the
history of surveillance technology, we find this particularly alarming.
Surveillance technology is often used to track and control vulnerable communities, particularly communities of color. The installation of biometric technologies on public housing properties poses an acute risk to those already on the margins.
The mission of the Department of Housing and Urban Development is to ensure that all Americans have access to fair and affordable housing, particularly for those from vulnerable populations who may not be able to secure stable housing on their own. It is
paramount that in providing this resource, we do not compromise the privacy or dignity of tenants.
In addition to the potential of over-policing and criminalizing those living and visiting these homes, there are significant concerns about the sharing of this data—specifically with law enforcement. Rampant biases in facial recognition technology have been
proven to disproportionately misidentify women and people of color. Using this flawed technology as the basis for everything from building access to potential arrest for perceived trespassing thus poses a unique risk to these groups.
This unregulated and under-researched technology should be banned in public housing units until additional oversight of its development and deployment is possible. This is why we are introducing the No Biometric Barriers to Housing Act of 2019.
This legislation will prohibit the use of biometric recognition technology in most public and assisted housing funded under the Department of Housing and Urban Development. It also requires that the Department of Housing and Urban Development
to submit a report to Congress describing (1) any known use of facial recognition technologies in public housing units, (2) the impact of emerging technologies on tenants, (3) the purpose of installing the technologies in the units, (4) demographic information
of impacted tenants and (5) the impact of emerging technologies on vulnerable communities in public housing, including on tenant privacy, civil rights and fair housing.
Again, the policing and criminalization of poverty is already an ugly reality for many people living in these communities. Public housing exists to provide shelter for our constituents, not another opportunity to be wrongly profiled. We simply cannot allow
untested and biased technologies to undermine tenants’ civil liberties or their quality of life.
We hope you will join as a cosponsor on this important bill.
If you have any questions or would like to cosponsor the resolution, please contact Christopher Cox at
firstname.lastname@example.org, Aya Ibrahim at email@example.com, or Dominique Warren at
Yvette D. Clarke (NY-09) Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) Rashida Tlaib (MI-13)
Member of Congress Member of Congress Member of Congress
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