skip to content


Serving People from Arrest to Reintegration

Improving Housing Opportunities for Individuals with Conviction Records (Legal Action Center Advocacy Toolkit)

  • Organization: Legal Action Center
  • Document Type: Report
  • Date Created: Monday, October 30, 2006
  • Submitted: Monday, October 30, 2006
  • Attachment(s): LINK

Many of the policies that housing authorities or private landlords use to exclude people with conviction records are overly restrictive, effectively denying housing to people who pose no threat to the public, tenants or property. Oftentimes the policies are based on a misunderstanding of federal law, or on the landlord placing a premium on ease of administration, believing that it's easier to "just say no" to all people with conviction records than to perform individualized analyses of their applications. These polices should be changed. With greater education and targeted advocacy, these policies can, be changed. (See the Legal Action Center's report, After Prison: Roadblocks to Reentry, at

Package One: Model Policies for Housing Authorities.
This portion of the kit provides model policies for your use as you work with local housing authorities. While federal law does mandate certain specific provisions about public housing for individuals with criminal records, housing authorities have a great deal of discretion to decide whom to admit to their housing. These model policies take into account both the valid public safety concerns of housing authorities, and the need for those with criminal records to obtain stable homes.

Package Two: Model Laws Prohibiting Housing Discrimination Against People with Conviction Records, and Advocacy Strategies for These Laws. [hyperlink]
This package of material includes model legislation for advocates seeking to prohibit housing discrimination against people with criminal records. This model legislation takes into account both the valid public safety concerns of legislators and landlords and the need for those with conviction records to obtain stable homes.

Package Three: Use of Certificates of Rehabilitation.
This package includes model policies governing the creation and use of certificates of rehabilitation. These certificates are currently used primarily in the employment context; these model policies broaden their use to create a presumption of rehabilitation in the housing context.

Package Four: Advocacy Tips.
This package contains advocacy tips to help convince PHAs to create reasonable standards regarding applicants with criminal records. It includes persuasive points of information and resources on creative approaches for improving access to housing for individuals with criminal records.

Package Five: Making a Claim of Racial Discrimination Under the Fair Housing Act.
This package includes explanatory and research material for a potential claim that policies excluding individuals with arrest or conviction records from housing constitute illegal racial discrimination.

Reentry NetPractice Areas

Pro Bono and legal aid attorney resources - Pro Bono Net