Fair Housing Act: Criminal History-Based Practices and Policies

Almost a third of Americans have a criminal record. In many cases the reason for the record is a minor infraction that occurred decades ago. Minorities are disproportionately represented among those with a record. To help providers develop housing policies that address criminal histories without having a disparate impact on minorities, HUD has issued guidelines.

HUD’s guidance comes on the heels of a Supreme Court decision last summer, which held disparate impact claims are cognizable under the Fair Housing Act.1 While persons with criminal records are not a protected class under the Act, HUD stresses that criminal history-based barriers to housing have a statistically disproportionate impact on minorities, which are a protected class under the Act, and as such, creating arbitrary or blanket criminal-based policies or restrictions could violate the Fair Housing Act (“FHA” or “Act”).  For more information, and a table that outlines do’s and don’ts, please click here.

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