Fair Chance at Housing Act offers solutions for people with criminal records

June 24, 2016
Each year, more than 600,000 people are released from federal and state prisons, while roughly 11 million more cycle through local jails. But despite serving their time, many of these formerly incarcerated individuals find themselves continuously punished for their past mistakes. This is particularly true when they seek housing — a refuge, a place where they can get back on their feet.
     Resources, especially affordable housing, are already scarce in many of the communities where formerly incarcerated people return. Indeed, there is currently a shortage of 7.2 million affordable rental units that are available to extremely low income households. People with no interaction with the criminal justice system struggle to find affordable housing. Having a criminal record creates additional barriers that are often insurmountable.
     Too frequently, people with criminal records are refused housing or are precluded from rejoining their families, as most plan to do. That’s because housing providers have broad discretion in deciding who is permitted to live in their properties. As a result, formerly incarcerated individuals looking to make the most of their second chance instead find themselves at risk of becoming homeless or recidivating.