In this letter (released in October 2010) to Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan, National People's Action and affiliate organizations that include the NYC AIDS Housing Network (NYCAHN) lay out a set of specific recommendations for guidance that would clarify HUD policy as it affects the access and rights of people with criminal records to public housing and other HUD-assisted housing.
As the letter points out, "while federal law allows more flexibility than is commonly understood, the reality is that 'one strike' policies have led to blanket exclusions from HUD-assisted housing for people with criminal records…as well as …unfair evictions procedures that can result in entire families losing their homes." The NPA details fourteen (14) recommended elements of written guidance that, if issued by HUD, could significantly reduce public housing restrictions and eviction procedures that go beyond the requirements of current federal law as it affects those with criminal records.
A criminal conviction history has, for far too long in this country, been a severe, often absurd, barrier to ex-offenders' access to basic services and opportunities essential for self-reliance. The right to vote, access to housing and where one can live, whether or where one can work, the extent to which one can participate in public service – all of these basics of an independent and responsible adult life are curtailed or eliminated for many people who pass through the criminal justice system. In view of the clearly race-based and class-based slant on so many criminal enforcement policies, these restrictions on independent adult life have a destructively bigger impact on the poor and on people of color.
The NPA campaign seeks to address a slice of this society-defeating inequity, by eliminating the numerous public housing exclusions of ex-offenders that go beyond what is required even by current federal law.