The Department of Housing and Urban Development/HUD is now making it easier for those with a criminal record to find a home.
In a new guidance released early April, the HUD tells landlords and home sellers that turning down an applicant because of their criminal history is illegal and violates the Fair Housing Act.
Americans move for a variety of reasons. Of those surveyed, 24% desire to own a home, 9% relocated due to a job, and 8% wanted to move out of a crime ridden neighborhood. But now thanks to the HUD, it is illegal for landlords to deny a person housing because of a criminal record.
Even though those with criminal records are not protected under the Fair Housing Act, blanket policies of refusing to rent to anyone with a criminal past is de facto discrimination because of the systemic disparities of the American criminal justice system.
HUD’s new ruling warns that even though landlords may not have the intentions of being discriminatory, such policies would have a disproportionate impact on African Americans and Hispanics.
Housing Secretary Julian Castro reports to NPR, “When landlords refuse to rent to anyone who has an arrest record, they effectively bar the door to millions of folks of color for no good reason.”
African-American men are imprisoned at a rate of nearly six times that of white men, and Hispanic men are arrested at nearly double that of white men.
HUD’s goal is to make landlords consider if their policy towards criminal records meant to ultimately keep the neighborhood safe.
This new rule makes it easier for HUD to resettle urban minorities into affordable housing in the suburbs, as part of the regulation it finalized last year which cuts off funding to local municipalities that refuse to lift zoning restrictions on low-income housing.
“HUD will use the full force of the law to protect the fair housing rights of folks who’ve been arrested or who’re returning to their communities after serving time in jail or prison,” Castro warned.