Most Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) deny eligibility to applicants with criminal records without considering rehabilitation or mitigation. However, if an applicant requests an administrative review of the denial, these factors are taken into account. Unfortunately, many applicants for public housing cannot obtain legal representation and, therefore, cannot successfully challenge denials. International law prohibits laws or policies that restrict access to housing, and they must be reasonable in light of legitimate state objectives.
In addition to protecting the safety of tenants, there are two other reasons for excluding criminal records in public housing. María Elena Durazo, the Democratic state senator from Los Angeles who introduced the bill, said the law could allow millions of Californians to “achieve their full economic and employment potential”. Criminal records would still be revealed in background checks when people apply for work in education, law enforcement, or public office. As long as those policies don't change, former prisoners and people with criminal records who were never incarcerated will find themselves living on the streets, in overcrowded shelters, in temporary motels, or crammed into the homes of friends and family.
In Los Angeles County, there are several programs available to people with criminal records looking to purchase a home. The Office of Diversion and Reentry (ODR) housing court program is a collaborative effort between the Office of Diversion and Reentry, Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Housing for Health, and community-based mental health and housing providers. This program provides defendants with a motivating opportunity to actively participate in their treatment and remain out of custody in order to keep their home. The Portland State University (PSU) study will track people with criminal records who entered public housing in Portland in 2000 over a period of four to five years.
In California alone, Clear My Record technology has helped identify 144,000 records for the approval of two-thirds of all qualifying cannabis convictions. In addition to Utah, automatic record authorization is already in effect in states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan, Connecticut, California and Delaware. This policy is also known as “clean slate” policies. In a country with the wealth of the United States, it is unacceptable that an estimated 3 million people become homeless each year - including many who have been excluded from federally subsidized housing.
Therefore, it is important that people with criminal records have access to programs that can help them buy a home. The availability of these programs can be life-changing for those with criminal records who are looking to purchase a home in Los Angeles County. With access to these resources, individuals can take advantage of opportunities that may have been previously unavailable due to their criminal record. This can help them achieve their full economic and employment potential while also providing them with a safe place to live.