asks: " I was denied HUD housing because of a minor drug offense. Is
there anything I can do?" We
all heard all the tough talk about "one strike" rules in Federally
assisted properties. That was then. Folks in DC are waking up to the
fact that keeping former felons out of affordable housing can put the
kibosh on the efforts of the State to rehabilitate wrong doers. The
question shouldn't be "did you do something wrong, but rather will you be a threat to your neighbors. Here's
part of the problem. No matter how HUD writes the rules to permit
landlords to exercise discretion, landlords want a "bright line" so that
they don't have to think.Two years ago, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan said this to owners of Federally assisted properties.
screening family behavior for suitability for tenancy, owners ay
consider all relevant inforation including factors that indicate a reasonable probability of future conduct, for example, evidence of
rehabilitation and evidence of the applicant family's participation in
or willingness to participate in social services such as counseling
Full letter attached below
regs already permit an appeal of a denial based on drug/criminal
offenses in Chapter 4 of the HUD Handbook 4350.3. (see attached at the
bottom of this page and look at pages 4-19 thru 4-22). Tenants who
believe they have been wrongfully denied should appeal the denial and
address the following questions.
seriousness of the offense; (2)The
effect denying tenancy would have on the community or on the failure
of the responsible entity to take action; (3)The
degree of participation in the offending activity by the household
effect denying tenancy household members;would have on non offending
household members. (5)The
demand for assisted housing by persons who will adhere to lease
extent to which the applicant household has taken responsibility
and takes all reasonable steps to prevent or mitigate
the offending action; and (7)The
effect of the offending action on the program’s integrity.
The facts in Kenneth's case (sorry we cannot be more specific) seem to show that his denial should be reconsidered.
Owner/agent of project based Section 8 housing is required to create a Tenant Selection plan that includes project
eligibility requirements, Income limits, procedures for accepting
applications and selecting from the waiting list, procedures for
applying preferences,required drug -related or criminal activity criteria (see next paragraph),
other allowable screening criteria; procedures for rejecting
ineligible applicants, waiting list management...and more! Owners are required to make the tenant selection plan available to the public and are recommended to review it annually.
Owners must establish standards that prohibit admission of:
a.Any household containing a member(s) who was evicted in the
last three years from federally assisted housing for drug-related
criminal activity. The owner may, but is not required to, consider
two exceptions to this provision:
(1) The evicted household member has successfully
completed an approved, supervised drug rehabilitation
(2) The circumstances leading to the eviction no longer exist (e.g., the household member no longer resides with the applicant household).
Except for this mandatory provision, owners have lots of discretion to consider other factors in individual cases. HUD Handbook 4350.3, Chapter 4 says in part:
optional screening criteria for a property, and applying the criteria to
specific cases, owners may consider all the circumstances relevant to a
particular household’s case. Such considerations may not be applied to
the required screening criteria described in subparagraph C.2 above.
These types of circumstances include:
(1) The seriousness of the offense;
(2) The effect denying tenancy would have on the community or on the failure of the responsible entity to take action;
(3) The degree of participation in the offending activity by the household member;
(4) The effect denying tenancy would have on non offending household members;
(5) The demand for assisted housing by persons who will adhere to lease responsibilities;
The extent to which the applicant household has taken responsibility and
takes all reasonable steps to prevent or mitigate the offending action;
(7) The effect of the offending action on the program’s integrity.
HUD has made strides in opening up assisted housing to household members with criminal records. 2012 Letter from Secy Donoran states quote
Still a recent study by the Shriver Center points out that "Discression means Denial" in many cases. LINK