LDF applauds the guidance from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, clarifying that the Fair Housing Act (FHA) applies to the use of criminal records by housing providers. HUD’s guidance explains that a provider who excludes persons from housing based on criminal history information may violate federal law, particularly if the housing provider’s policy does not consider factors such as the type of crime and the length of time since conviction.
“Throughout the country, African Americans are more likely than individuals of other races to come into contact with law enforcement, and, as a result, may face significant barriers to securing housing when criminal history information is considered,” said Coty Montag, Deputy Director of Litigation at LDF. “We appreciate that HUD has made clear that any use of criminal records by housing providers must be carefully tailored to serve a substantial, legitimate, nondiscriminatory interest. Blanket bans on individuals with criminal history information are unlikely to satisfy the FHA’s rigorous justification standard.”
LDF has litigated cases seeking to protect the civil rights of persons with criminal records, particularly persons of color, and looks forward to continued discussions with HUD regarding its plans to enforce the guidance released today.
Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.