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Office of the
Illinois Attorney General
Kwame Raoul

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June 10, 2024

Chicago – Attorney General Kwame Raoul, as part of a coalition of 13 attorneys general, today encouraged the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to standardize the federal rules to screen public housing applicants with arrest or conviction records.   

Attorney General Raoul and the coalition issued a comment letter responding to a HUD notice of proposed rulemaking to regulations concerning the use of arrest or conviction records in housing decisions. In the letter, Raoul and the coalition express support for HUD’s proposed rule to standardize practices of criminal history screenings across HUD programs and provide individuals with arrest or conviction records a fair chance at accessing housing.  

“Everyone, particularly those working hard to overcome a past conviction or arrest, deserves the opportunity to have safe and reliable housing,” Raoul said. “A second chance starts with access to housing you can be proud of, and I will continue to work with other attorneys general to ensure all residents in Illinois and across the nation have an equal access to housing.” 

HUD’s proposed rule creates a standard three-year period to review when evaluating someone’s conviction history, ensuring that only recent and relevant criminal activity is considered. Additionally, the proposed rule would restrict the denial of housing solely based on an applicant’s arrest record. In cases where an applicant is denied due to criminal history screening, Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) will now be required to do an individual assessment whereby the applicant may be permitted to provide additional information to supplement their application. Ultimately, the proposed rule will improve access to housing, reduce the inequitable impact on access to housing based on race, and promote public safety.  

Raoul and the coalition support these provisions but ask HUD to provide more clarity on several aspects. Specifically, the coalition requests that the proposed rule clarify the types of evidence of criminal activity, without a conviction, which may be considered in screening determinations for public housing, in order to limit the possibility of arbitrary, unfair or discriminatory decisions. The coalition recognizes many benefits that a reasonable review period would provide when reviewing someone’s conviction history, and, therefore, supports HUD exercising its statutory authority to create such a period. However, the coalition believes HUD could improve the regulations by providing more guidance to PHAs and HUD-assisted housing providers.  

Joining Raoul in sending today’s letter are the attorneys general of the Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Vermont.