Michigan Reentry Law Wiki

Schaafsma: Criminal Activity Based Barriers to HUD Assisted Rental Housing

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Criminal Activity Based Barriers to Admission to HUD Assisted Rental Housing

The law governing the largest HUD-assisted rental housing programs (public housing, project-based Section 8 multifamily housing, tenant-based Section 8 vouchers) requires that providers engage in tenant suitability screening according to written tenant selection plans (exception: voucher program). These plans must contain criteria that are related to legitimate obligations and expectations of tenants and the applicant household’s characteristics, and they must be applied fairly, consistently, and uniformly, and in conformance with fair housing law.

According to federal law, these tenant selection plans must incorporate the following standards related to criminal activity by a member of an applicant household:

Mandatory temporary prohibition of admission to:

  • A household with a member who has been evicted from federally assisted housing for drug-related criminal activity for 3 years from that eviction (permitted to apply prohibition for a longer period). Provider may admit family if the person has completed an approved rehab program, or if the circumstances leading to the eviction no longer exist (person no longer a member of the household).
  • A household with a member whose housing provider determines is currently engaged in illegal drug use, or if provider has “reasonable cause to believe” that a member’s illegal drug use or alcohol abuse (or “pattern” of use or abuse) may threaten the health, safety, or right to peaceful enjoyment of the premises by other residents. Provider may consider whether rehab is underway or completed.

Mandatory permanent prohibition of admission to:

  • Any household with a member who is subject to a lifetime registration requirement under a state sex offender registration program.
  • Any household with a member who has been convicted of making methamphetamine on the premises of federally assisted housing (PH and S.8 voucher).

Permissive prohibition of admission to:

  • A household with a member who the provider determines is currently engaged in, or has engaged in during a “reasonable time” before the admission: drug related criminal activity; violent criminal activity; other criminal activity that threatens the health or safety of other residents, persons living in the immediate vicinity, or provider staff.
  • Provider may reconsider denial if is has “sufficient evidence” of no engagement in criminal activity (such as certification from probation officer, landlord, neighbors, agency).

Discretionary authority: For permissive prohibitions, provider may exercise discretion, culpability of household members, evidence of rehabilitation, and the effect of denial on members not involved. The provider may admit household without offender.

Use of criminal records

Local housing agencies have access to criminal records for their own use and on behalf of project-based Section 8 owners. If record shows conviction that will be the basis for denial of admission, agency must notify household, provide it with a copy, and give it opportunity to dispute accuracy and relevance of report.


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