Richmond Adopts Housing Rights for Ex-Criminals

Richmond City Council passes the Fair Chance Access to Affordable Housing Ordinance, protecting the housing rights of those with criminal records.

Affordable housing is often not afforded to people with criminal records, as a set of “blanket bans” automatically denies the affordable housing applications of anyone with a past criminal record. The City of Richmond just banned these blanket bans, joining San Francisco and a host of other U.S. cities in passing the Fair Chance Access to Affordable Housing Ordinance that protects access to affordable housing for individuals with criminal records.

The bar is pretty low for denying affordable housing to someone with a criminal record. All it takes to deny an application is two misdemeanors or one felony. Heck, there nights when I commit two misdemeanors!

Richmond was persuaded to pass the ordinance after lobbying from an array of organizations who support the reentry of formerly incarcerated people into society, including the Reentry Success Center and the ACLU of Northern California.  

“Formerly incarcerated individuals and those with criminal records face lifelong barriers against basic necessities and fundamental civil rights,” said Nayna Gupta of the ACLU of Northern California. “We know that ‘blanket bans’ and other similar housing restrictions have an especially discriminatory effect against African American and Latino rental applicants, because of the impact of racially biased policing and prosecutions in the criminal justice system. This new ordinance will provide all applicants with criminal records a fair chance at realizing their civil right to safe and secure housing.”

Richmond joins San Francisco, Newark, N.J., Seattle, Wash., and Madison, Wis. in adopting the Fair Chance Housing Ordinance.

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