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HUD Wants to Use Ex-Cons for Fair Housing Testing

A proposed rule would allow fair-housing testers to have prior convictions – a way to determine if a landlord illegally turns away renters based on criminal history.

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Federal Register. If that rule becomes law, it would allow fair housing testers – under the Fair Housing Initiatives Program (FHIP) grantees and Fair Housing Assistance Program (FHAP) agencies – to have prior felony convictions or certain other convictions.

“We trust fair housing testers to identify bias and discrimination in housing so we can fulfill our mission to root it out,” says HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge. “Through this new rule, we can ensure people with criminal records … aren’t facing unnecessary barriers. People reentering society and those with criminal records deserve a fair shot at a second chance. This rule helps us get there.”

This proposed rule aligns with an April 12, 2022, Memorandum, “Eliminating Barriers That May Unnecessarily Prevent Individuals with Criminal Histories from Participating in HUD Programs.” It would also “ensure that FHIP and FHAP funded entities are able to fully investigate criminal background screening policies that are potentially discriminatory under federal civil rights laws by using testers with actual criminal backgrounds.”

HUD is seeking public comment on the proposed rule and invites interested parties and members of the public to submit their views, comments and recommendations. Comments may be submitted electronically by Dec. 29 through or through the methods described in the proposed rule.

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