The Public Housing Authority should be Helping the homeless population not adding to it!
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This petition is to amend the Federal Law (42 USC § 13661(c) which allows the Housing Authority to do a criminal background check on people applying for housing assistance and of people that will be living in the residence. This petition is written to advocate for the amendment of USC §13661 to include specific criminal charges that would bar an applicant or applicant's family member from residing in or qualifying for federally subsidized housing. There needs to be a more specific policy relative to what would and would not make someone with a criminal history eligible for Public Housing Agency (PHA).
Rules in subsidized housing can be very strict, and even minor arrests or criminal convictions can affect your right to stay in public housing. Current regulations pertaining to the use of criminal background checks are over broad and vague. Furthermore, promulgated rules should place time limitations on accessing criminal background and allow for remediation of one’s criminal history. If applicants new up front both the PHA exclusionary policies and what kind of evidence of mitigation and rehabilitation they would need to become eligible, an applicant could use the intervening months, and often years, to gather evidence of rehabilitation.
This petition is to enforce specific guidelines as to what qualifies or disqualifies a person with a criminal background. Currently the guidelines vary state by state and are often not specific enough for a person with a background to determine whether or not they qualify.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics Strategic Plan 2005-2008, under the heading “Criminal History Records,” 68 million people had criminal records at the close of 2003. “At the close of 2003, States and the FBI maintained criminal history records on approximately 68 million individuals. Of these, over 50 million records were available for interstate background checks.”
Posted on January 31, 2012 by Pat Hartman in an article called, “How to Become Homeless: Have a Criminal Background”, she stated. “Nowadays, one out of every 99 American adults is behind bars.” A lot these imprisoned people will, like so many before them, be released into the condition of people experiencing homelessness. The statistics given in this petition have a direct impact on why so many people in the US become homeless.
A more specific policy relative to what would and would not make someone with a criminal history eligible for Public Housing Agency (PHA) would allow a person with a criminal background at the least know whether they are eligible and what they can do to become eligible.
Specific Guidelines that need to be implemented to the following rule (42 USC § 13661(c) is as follows:
· There needs to be a time frame guideline that will state how far back a criminal background check will be done prior to applying for PHA. (I propose that a criminal background be done no more than ten years back.)
· There should be a list of specific charges that would make you ineligible if these specific charges exist. For Example: someone convicted of murder or a sex offender would not qualify for PHA.
· There should be specific guidelines that will give consideration for a person who has completed a program such as (drug rehabilitation, counseling or any other programs that can show they are rehabilitated.) Along with consideration should be guidelines that have to be followed by a PHA representative for the person completing a rehabilitation program. (I propose, If the person applying has a criminal conviction within a five year period that in order to qualify they would need to show proof a rehabilitation through a state or county program and would have to remain felony free within that time period.)
· If for any reason applicant is denied PHA they should receive a denial letter stating the specific reason they were denied. The applicant will have 15 days to appeal the denial by which time the applicant should show proof of meeting guidelines or if an extension is needed the applicant should write a letter of explanation stating what is being done to meet specific guidelines to be approved. The PHA should give an applicant no more than 60 days to provide the proper requirements to become eligible for consideration of reversal of denial.
Alcohol and drugs are implicated in an estimated 80% of offenses leading to incarceration in the United States such as domestic violence, driving while intoxicated, property offenses, drug offenses, and public-order offenses. Our nation’s prison population has exploded beyond capacity and most inmates are in prison, in large part, because of substance abuse:
· 80% of offenders abuse drugs or alcohol.
· Nearly 50% of jail and prison inmates are clinically addicted.
· Approximately 60% of individuals arrested for most types of crimes test positive for illegal drugs at arrest.
The National Drug Control Strategy spends $1.3 billion dollars every year on outreach programs and support education that are put in place to discourage the use of controlled substances while encouraging outreach efforts for the community to stop the drug use. However, none of this means anything if the people who have made a mistake are not given a fair opportunity. If all of this money and effort is being spent to rehabilitate people then why should it be so hard to find proper housing for the people who have shown that they can be an upstanding citizen despite their past. Implementing these changes will help the general welfare of the nation.
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