Recently, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released a new document elaborating on their stance with regards to housing ex-offenders. Between prisons and jails more than 7.5 Million individuals are released from incarceration back into society, the majority of which have families they are returning to. Some of these families may already be living in assisted housing which can complicate the lease agreement and put the property manager in a quandary. Based on recommendations by HUD and President Obama, here are 3 points to take into consideration when involved in providing housing for a rehabilitated citizen:
- Find your Balance – Try to be as understanding as you can to the hardships of your applicant while still maintaining the safety of your property and its’ residents. The department (HUD) encourages owners of government assisted properties to better develop policies and procedures that will aide ex-offenders to gain habitation without sacrificing the quality of the property. Try considering any factors that demonstrate the likelihood that the applicant will serve as a favorable resident. An example of this would be documented rehabilitation of the applicant or their family’s participation in social services that promote good behavior.
- Remain within HUD Standards – HUD statutes and regulations regarding the HUD Low Income Voucher Program (commonly called ‘Section 8 Housing’) require owners to prohibit admission to sex offenders subject to a lifetime registration requirement under a state government’s sex offender registration program. This policy is specified to cover more severe of crimes, but it does not prohibit renting to a rehabilitated sex offender that has served their time and no longer is required to register. Any specification prohibits supplying housing to anyone deemed to be currently involved in illegal use of narcotics or exhibiting behavior involving narcotics that may pose a danger to the property or its’ residents. Applicants, however, who have been convicted of drug related crimes but show they have been or will be involved with rehabilitating organizations should still be considered for occupancy.
- Believe in the Idea of ‘Second Chances’ – President Obama has recently made clear his stance on the reintroduction of ex-offenders into society and that having belief that a person can be rehabilitated is essential to making it so. An applicant who has paid their debt to society but is turned away from returning to a normal life is more likely to revert to a life of crime. Being part of the support system that encourages ex-offenders to become productive citizens, caring parents, and positive role models is an opportunity to help complete a vital step in the rehabilitation process.
Part of supporting the cause of HUD means helping ex-offenders gain access to one of the most fundamental building blocks of a stable life – a place to live. Knowing what an applicant has done and being able to determine their potential for good is another step towards building a better society.