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HUD Focuses on Housing Protections for ‘Returning Citizens’

HUD Secretary Fudge wrote a letter making it clear that ex-prisoners qualify for emergency vouchers – and to avoid “overbroad denial … on the basis of criminal records.”

WASHINGTON – U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Marcia L. Fudge outlined actions that HUD is taking to “improve public safety” – specifically by addressing the housing needs of ex-prisoners, which she calls “returning citizens.

In a letter sent to public housing authorities, Fudge said that returning citizens should be included in distribution of the recently awarded 70,000 emergency housing vouchers funded by the American Rescue Plan.

Secretary Fudge’s letter is tied to the Biden-Harris Administration’s new comprehensive strategy to increase public safety.

“The President and I believe that everyone deserves a second chance and a stable home from which to rebuild their lives,” Fudge says. “To that end, HUD is committed to taking a comprehensive approach to addressing the housing needs of returning citizens and people with criminal records, and by doing so, increasing public safety within our communities.”

Fudge says HUD’s focus will help advance equity and reverse systemic racism, “given the racial disparities evident in the criminal justice system.”

She also mentions additional steps HUD is taking to meet the housing needs of returning citizens. Those include:

  • Developing additional tools to ensure applicant screening and tenant selection practices avoid unnecessarily overbroad denial of housing to applicants on the basis of criminal records. HUD reminds landlords that these can lead to Fair Housing violations, consistent with the 2016 memo on disparate impact and criminal records
  • Reviewing existing HUD policies and regulations that limit access to housing and HUD assistance among people with criminal conviction histories
  • Publishing findings regarding best and promising practices on reentry housing, including through HUD’s existing programs and demonstrations like the Juvenile Reentry Assistance Program and the Pay for Success Permanent Supportive Housing Demonstration

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