Fair Housing vs. Unfair Housing

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Should Criminals Be Protected Against Housing Discrimination?

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Dane County, Wisconsin is tackling the controversial issue of whether a landlord should be allowed to discriminate against someone simply because he or she has a criminal record.

The county is currently considering adding language to allow discrimination against such people, according to a May 19 report from the Wisconsin State Journal. Specifically, the ordinance would say that landlords can turn away prospective tenants based on criminal history if the crime was related to housing and “a reasonable person would have a justifiable fear for the safety” of the property or other tenants.

Is this language fair, or should landlords be free to adopt their own criminal history policies without fear of housing discrimination claims? Madison, which is the seat of Dane County, bars landlords from discriminating against people with a criminal record if their record is more than two years old. Is this sensible?

What do you think?

Interesting to note:

"Criminal arrest/conviction" is not a protected class under the Fair Housing Act or under any state's fair housing law.

19 comments:

nbrcrunchr said...

Landlords are already protected against this type of discrimination lawsuit, because criminals are not a protected class. Discrimination does not conform to Christian values, which made this country great. Therefor, criminals should be made a protected class.

Patrice said...

For me, I should say that criminals are to protected against housing discrimination. They too have the right not to be discriminated by anyone.

Anonymous said...

There should be specific time limitations and specific classes of crime involved. If someone was convicted of injury to personal property because they broke a car window when they were 17 years old, and it is now more than 15 years later with no further convictions, should that incident be used to deny them housing?

Anonymous said...

I don't believe criminals should be discriminated against unless it is a very recent and maybe violent offense. When you leave a criminal without a home you are basically asking them to commit another crime like theft or robbery because they have to have a place to live and they have to eat and sleep just like everyone else. Make sense? I applied at an apartment that said I was allowed one misdemenor offense in the past 5 years I met those specifications and they still denied me. They said that they could deny anyone they wanted to for any reason so they can deny you just because they don't like you. Better pitch a tent guys.

Anonymous said...

majarity of the landlords are a bunch of thiefs anyway so I say this if u have a criminal history an u are trying to change u should get a chance if they don't give it then make sure that when u are robbing or buglerizing make sure u are doing it to the people that are putting u in the street that makes it even.

Anonymous said...

This just happened to me. I applied for a duplex and had a marijuana charge in 2005. Since then I have held one job for five years and am now a corporate manager. I was shocked to receive an email stating that I was denied for my criminal record. I have not done anything illegal in years and am not a child any longer. I think that there should definitely be a law to help those who changed their lives to for the better of themselves and the community. Receiving this notification made me feel as though I can never be a normal part of society due to my past mistakes.

Anonymous said...

When you commit a crime there are consequences (that's why momma said to be a good boy/good girl.) Being disturbed about how your arrest/criminal activity is now affecting you is like being mad at the fire for burning you when you stuck your hand in it. Or blaming the teacher when you didn't study for your test and then failed it. Each action has a consequence. If it didn't, what would stop us from continuing the bad behavior?

blindsleep said...

The question I have is. What about those who were charged to later have it dismissed? I have a a place that wants to deny me housing due to a charge that has long been dismissed without conviction. I find this a major issue since in my local we have a police force that will charge anyone with anything.

mkeller666 said...

I'm currently having the same problem with being discriminated against due to criminal charges that were dismissed. I was arrested when I was 18, the charges were dropped when I was 21, and now I'm 24 and looking for housing once again and got denied by two communities so far due to the dismissed charges.

Anonymous said...

Be a good boy or girl? Some of those being discriminated against we're wrongly accused and are not felons logically how is it fair to discriminate against someone with no criminal convictions? As far as paying the consequences for your actions that's what prison is for pompas a$$. Who are you too divy out punishment there is a reason why we have laws in place so that we have specific punishments set in place not for specific crimes. Without these laws and punishments I'm sure there's some people out there that would love to kick you off your high horse!

Cablecop4 said...

I have been (just recently) discriminated against for misdemeanors almost 20 years old (during a bad 4 year period)!!! This despite the fact I have been gainfully employed, have good credit, excellent references, and an excellent rental history. I am getting beat over the head by my "distant past". I had a drug problem for the 4 year period, no criminal record before nor since!!! Go figure!!! How would you like to be judged by your distant past and be told (after 3 weeks)"Application Denied for Adverse Criminal history". It is offensive and totally unfair and overly judgmental!!! I do not smoke, drink, nor use drugs (since 1994); yet I get this slapped in my face!!! Even most employers only go back 7-10 years for criminal checks!!! OBTW!!! I am a "Licensed Minister"; my past is "MY TESTIMONY" of the deliverance power of God. Thank you Lord that you do not Judge us the way we Jude each other!!!

Anonymous said...

My husband and I live in Texas with our three children. Both of us are enrolled in college and right now it's tough. We tried applying for apartments, but with his criminal record they denied us. They literally laughed in our face. They shouldn't discriminate against especially when there are kids involved.

Anonymous said...

I was just denied housing because my local police department decided to charge me with felon possession of a firearm & the charge was dismissed. without asking me not one thing about my case they denied me housing & about to be homeless.if they would have asked why was I charged in the first place or even had a firearm they would have found out the case was dismissed because I actually turned in a firearm from a murder case.so should I continue to be denided housing for that

Anonymous said...

Government bureaucrats would be the first to deny housing to anyone for any reason at all, but yet they legislate laws that landlords are required to adhere to. The price for committing a crime is that it will follow you for years, perhaps for your entire life. How many of you would allow a criminal into your home? How many would sue a landlord if one of his criminal tenants perpetrated a crime against you?

William Prock said...

I am going to start challenging these laws and work toward change it takes a lot of effort to change laws but they can be changed if people work towards it. I think these over zealous landlords need to be held accountable for their crimes against humanity.

Anonymous said...

I am a convicted felon and I did time. Now my husband and I want to live in Senior housing. We looked at two properties that get a tax credit for renting to persons below a certain yearly income. The screening guidelines for the property deny a person for being a convicted felon. My crime was a "paper" crime...not drug related, non-violent.

What irks me is that they get tax credit for renting to seniors with limited income.

Anonymous said...

For those of you who keep making comments about paying the price for being a criminal, you need to get your judgmental heads out of your a$$es. Many people are being discriminated against because of CHARGES, not convictions. In this great country, we are supposed to be presumed "innocent until proven guilty". I have learned first-hand that is a bunch of bull. As one person commented, they discriminate even if charges were dropped, and they do not even inquire as to the nature of the charges. It's like some big red flag waves for no reason and they just deny you. No human being should be denied the right to have a roof over their head, provided they can afford to pay for it. Many innocent people struggle because of asinine charges alone, not actual convictions. It's disturbing.

Anonymous said...

I have a felony conviction from 1987, should I be discriminated against for not being able to rent after all of these years? I have not committed any offenses since then. I have received my degrees, have a great job and have turned my life around and have been a member in the community fighting for those who have convictions such as mine. When does the forgiveness begin?

Anonymous said...

I am personally sick of not being able to live somewhere. This country is full of bigots who judge me for smoking pot with my friends when I was 18. Now my kids and wife are made to suffer for my actions. The externalities present a cost too high. There is no benefit to vengeance behavior. It just creates another separation of classes barrier that is detrimental to our society. People are being discriminated against well after they have paid their debts to society. For many, it is impossible to even do that. This is due to the fact that there is a catch-22 linked to criminal history and corrections. Correction is not possible when one is banned from having a job and a home. For those who can't comprehend that problem, gfy.