Vera Institute of Justice Calls on the New York City Council to Increase Housing Access and Opportunity for System-Involved People

12.7.22 - This August, Councilmember Keith Powers introduced a bill in the New York City Council to end discrimination in housing on the basis of previous arrests and convictions. Vera applauds the many City Council members who have co-sponsored this important legislation and thanks the Progressive Caucus for identifying the bill as one of its legislative priorities for the coming year. Vera calls on the Council to pass this proposal swiftly, while recommending that protections be strengthened where the bill permits the continued consideration of justice involvement in housing decisions.

Jullian Harris-Calvin, director of Vera’s Greater Justice New York program, issued the following statement:

“Ending housing discrimination against system-involved New Yorkers is essential for public safety and a thriving city. The current system traps thousands of formerly incarcerated people and their families—predominantly Black and Latinx—in a cycle of houselessness, instability, rearrest, and reincarceration. The City Council’s proposed legislation is an opportunity to end that cycle and make a real commitment to public safety through stable housing and family reunification.”

Access to stable and affordable housing substantially reduces a person's likelihood of rearrest and reincarceration. It also increases the likelihood that someone reentering the community after incarceration will find and retain a job, be supported by their family, and rebuild supportive social networks. Yet nationally, formerly incarcerated people are 10 times more likely than the general public to be unhoused—and people who are unhoused are 11 times more likely to be arrested than those with stable housing, according to the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty. In New York City, more than 40 percent of those returning from state prisons were released directly to shelters between 2014 and August 2021.

New Yorkers already face significant obstacles in finding a place to live: affordable housing is in short supply, housing vouchers are scarce, and landlords and real estate agents have a history of refusing to rent to voucher holders. For the hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers with previous involvement in the criminal legal system, denial of housing based on an arrest or conviction creates yet another barrier to stability for themselves and their families. Ending housing discrimination against system-involved people makes the city stronger and safer for us all.


About the Vera Institute of Justice
The Vera Institute of Justice is powered by hundreds of advocates, researchers, and policy experts working to transform the criminal legal and immigration systems until they’re fair for all. Founded in 1961 to advocate for alternatives to money bail in New York City, Vera is now a national organization that partners with impacted communities and government leaders for change. We develop just, antiracist solutions so that money doesn’t determine freedom; fewer people are in jails, prisons, and immigration detention; and everyone is treated with dignity. Vera’s headquarters is in Brooklyn, New York, with offices in Washington, DC, New Orleans, and Los Angeles. For more information, visit

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