Muskogee Housing Comments on Fair Chance at Housing Act
Since the passage of the Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act of 1998, Public Housing Authorities have been able to develop and enforce "One Strike and You're Out" policies to battle crime in publicly assisted housing. A bill introduced in the Senate by Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) would, by all accounts, eliminate the ability to use the "One Strike" policies.
Muskogee Housing certainly agrees that the ability to obtain suitable housing should be a right for every citizen and that studies agree that homelessness leads to higher levels of recidivism. Unfortunately, the flaws contained in the bill far outweigh its positive intent.
The bills introduced, if enacted, would prevent Muskogee Housing from using previous drug-related convictions and current drug and alcohol abuse as a criterion for housing denial. Evictions for offenses such as assault would also be prevented if the crime is determined to be a misdemeanor.
Lastly, the bills would require individual "review panels" to determine if an applicant or tenant is protected under the Fair Chance at Housing Act. The information presented to the review panels, which must contain at least one resident, would compromise the privacy of the applicant and place the agency in jeopardy.
Again, the underlying intent of the bills are certainly positive. Unfortunately, the added administrative burden at a time when adequate funding is not provided, coupled with the restricted ability for an agency to protect its tenants and staff leads Muskogee Housing to withhold its support of the bills in their current form.