October 30, 2023

HUD: Rule Proposed to Remove Criminal Conviction Restrictions for Fair Housing Testers

New rule would eliminate restrictions on those with prior felony or certain other criminal convictions in FHIP- and FHAP-Funded Testing Programs.

Today, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Federal Register that would eliminate the agency’s restrictions on the use of fair housing testers with prior felony convictions or certain other convictions by Fair Housing Initiatives Program (FHIP) grantees and Fair Housing Assistance Program (FHAP) agencies. Fair housing testers provide invaluable support to HUD and HUD’s fair housing partners by taking part in housing transactions to screen for discrimination.

“We trust fair housing testers to identify bias and discrimination in housing so we can fulfill our mission to root it out. Through this new rule, we can ensure people with criminal records who want to participate in this important work aren’t facing unnecessary barriers,” said HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge. “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 HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge’s April 12, 2022 Memorandum, “Eliminating Barriers That May Unnecessarily Prevent Individuals with Criminal Histories from Participating in HUD Programs.” Additionally, it would make HUD’s programs as inclusive as possible for people with criminal records and 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.

“This proposed rule is consistent with the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to eliminating barriers to reentry and expanding avenues for employment,” said Demetria L. McCain, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “It rolls back unnecessary rules imposed on our fair housing partners and allows them to structure their fair housing tests in the most appropriate ways while recognizing the many forms of discrimination in our country’s housing market.”

HUD seeks public comment on this proposed rule and invites all interested parties and members of the public to submit their views, comments, and recommendations for improvement on this proposal. Comments may be submitted electronically by December 29 through www.regulations.gov or through the methods described in the proposed rule.

This post was originally published here.