The National People’s Action, in conjunction with several other housing advocacy groups, has requested and received more specific guidance regarding the use of criminal record information in the selection process for publically- assisted housing. This guidance appears in two letters sent by HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. The first letter, dated June 17, 2011 is specificallyaddressed to Public Housing Authorities (PHA’s); and, the second letter, dated March 14, 2012 is specifially addressed to private owners, managers and agents of HUD-assisted properties.
The importance of these two letters is two-fold. They give definition to what criminal offenses automatically disqualify an applicant for public housing assistance; yet they encourage PHA’s and landlords alike to afford applicants a “second chance” whenever possible. This rhetoric marks a shift from guidance documents set forth under previous administrations.