June 10, 2024

Rep. Watson Coleman Sends Letter to HUD Encouraging Adoption of New Rule Reducing Barriers to Affordable Housing for Justice-Impacted People

Today, Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12) led 15 of her House colleagues in a letter to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) encouraging the adoption of a proposed rule that would end the practice of rejecting or evicting tenants from public housing, or HUD-subsidized housing, solely on the basis of criminal conviction.

According to the Sentencing Project, as many as one in three adults in the United States — up to 100 million Americans — have interacted with the criminal justice system, a disproportionate amount of whom are people of color. A criminal record creates barriers to jobs, higher education opportunities, and public benefits – including those supplied by HUD.

“We write to respectfully urge the Administration to expeditiously move forward the Reducing Barriers to HUD-Assisted Housing rule,” the letter states. “As Members of Congress, we support the spirit of this rule – to both increase access to housing and minimize counterproductive exclusions from housing for those who have interacted with the criminal justice system.”

"HUD's proposal is a necessary step toward addressing the vicious cycle of homelessness and incarceration that millions of Americans are struggling to overcome," said Adam Gordon, executive director at the Fair Share Housing Center.  "Instead of setting formerly incarcerated people up to fail, it's incumbent on policymakers at all levels of government to help reduce recidivism by ensuring access to stable housing."

The full text of the letter can be found here.

The proposed HUD rule can be found here

The letter is signed by Reps. Watson Coleman (NJ-12); Barbara Lee (CA-12); Raúl Grijalva (AZ-07); Bennie Thompson (MS-02); Hank Johnson (GA-04); Gwen Moore (WI-04); Jonathan Jackson (IL-01); Melanie Stansbury (NM-01); Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18); Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14); Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44); Maxwell Alejandro Frost (FL-10); Greg Casar (TX-35); Yvette Clarke (NY-09); Jimmy Gomez (CA-34); and Alma Adams (NC-12).