Opening Doors Safely Increasing Access to Public Housing for People with Conviction Histories

Overview

For more than 600,000 people leaving prison and the nearly 11 million cycling through jails annually, research shows that safe, affordable housing is essential for them to succeed after they are released.

While all public housing authorities (PHAs) must, by law, place lifetime exclusions on people who are lifetime-registered sex offenders or who have been convicted of producing methamphetamine on public housing property, most housing authorities also temporarily or permanently exclude people with many other types of criminal histories, using their broad discretion when crafting screening and eviction policies.

In recent years, however, there has been growing momentum to ease restrictions around housing for formerly incarcerated individuals.

In 2017, the Vera Institute of Justice (Vera) launched the Opening Doors to Public Housing Initiative to expand access to housing for people with conviction histories. For this phase of the initiative, Vera—with funding from the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA)—has selected four sites that will receive up to 12 months of technical assistance to plan and implement reentry programs and/or change their admissions policies regarding people with conviction histories.