Having a criminal record makes it challenging to find affordable housing, but someone with a criminal record may still qualify for many federal low-income housing programs.
In 2016, HUD issued guidance to federal housing providers to loosen restrictions for applicants with criminal records. HUD’s concern was that a large number of low-income applicants may have criminal records, closing many off from housing assistance who may only have minor infractions.
Because of disproportionate arrest, conviction, and incarceration rates for African-Americans and Hispanics; HUD determined that using criminal records alone when rejecting an applicant violates the Fair Housing Act of 1968. The Fair Housing Act bars discrimination in the sale, rental or financing of housing and other housing-related activities on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status or national origin. People with criminal records are not a protected class under the Fair Housing Act, but basing application decisions solely on having a criminal record has a disproportionate impact on racial and ethnic minorities who are protected under the Act.