Sobering Thoughts on Sober Living Facilities: Lately Burbank has wrestled with the issue of sober living facilities which are integrated in the fabric of our community located right next door to regular homes in the middle of residential neighborhoods.
The federal government has essentially mandated that cities have no choice but to allow these group homes into quiet neighborhoods under the principle that addicts and such cannot be treated any differently because they are according to the federal government a suspect class.
Now, under guidelines released this past week by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, turning down tenants based on whether or not they have criminal records could be considered discriminatory and landlords could, as a result, face lawsuits or penalties. This is crazy.
According to the New York Times, "Landlords must [now] distinguish between arrests and convictions … and consider nature and severity of the crime."
Ordering cities to locate rehab centers in the middle of quiet residential neighborhoods, and now lessening the ability to screen residents is pretty crazy.
Since when are businesses permitted in R1 neighborhoods? This is an overreach that runs the risk of turning sleepy charming Burbank streets into profit centers for companies loading up their homes with people with criminal records and addictions.
We are as progressive as any but value the concept of local control and the ability of people to choose through their city governments where they want businesses to locate in communities.
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Here is the NY Times article Gatto is referring to:
Federal Housing Officials Warn Against Blanket Bans of Ex-Offenders: Private landlords who have blanket bans on renting to people with criminal records are in violation of the Fair Housing Act and can be sued and face penalties for discrimination, the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development said.
Julián Castro, the HUD secretary, is expected on Monday to announce guidance that details his agency’s interpretation of how the fair housing law applies to policies that exclude people with criminal records, a group that is not explicitly protected by the act but falls under it in certain circumstances. Federal officials said landlords must distinguish between arrests and convictions and cannot use an arrest to ban applicants. In the case of applicants with convictions, property owners must prove that the exclusion is justified and consider factors like the nature and severity of the crime in assessing prospective tenants before excluding someone.
Mr. Castro said housing bans against former offenders were common.
“Right now, many housing providers use the fact of a conviction, any conviction, regardless of what it was for or how long ago it happened, to indefinitely bar folks from housing opportunities,” Mr. Castro said in a statement. “Many people who are coming back to neighborhoods are only looking for a fair chance to be productive members, but blanket policies like this unfairly deny them that chance.”
Mod: For the rest of this NYT article click here.