Sign On to Support Michigan Fair Chance Housing Act

Nation Outside and the Vera Institute request your support for the Fair Chance Access to Housing Act. This legislation removes barriers to housing for people with conviction histories in Michigan. Please fill out the form (link below) to sign the support letter for the Fair Chance Access to Housing Act. Organizations and individuals are welcome to sign on. Thank you for your support. Housing is a human right!

Click HERE to sign on to the letter (copied below)

June 29, 2023
Governor Gretchen Whitmer
Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist II
Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks
Speaker of the House Joe Tate

100 N Capitol Ave
Lansing, MI 48933

Dear Governor Whitmer, Lieutenant Governor Gilchrist, Senate Majority Leader Brinks, and Speaker of the House Tate:

We, the undersigned organizations and individuals, call on the state of Michigan to pass the Fair Chance Access to Housing Act.

Housing is a human right, and every Michigander deserves a place to call home. However, for many Michiganders, home is elusive. Nearly three million people in Michigan have some type of conviction history (including arrests) and as a result, face immense barriers to accessing safe and stable housing.

Housing providers often use criminal background checks when screening prospective tenants, excluding many people with conviction histories from securing housing. A 2021 survey conducted by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority found that respondents with conviction histories reported the highest levels of housing discrimination overall. This discrimination contributes to a cycle of homelessness and incarceration: people who are formerly incarcerated are almost 10 times more likely to be unhoused than the general public, and people who are unhoused are 11 times more likely to be arrested due to increased interactions with police.

Due to structural inequalities and racism in the criminal legal system, exclusionary housing policies disproportionally harm communities of color. Black people make up 51 percent of Michigan’s prison population and only 15 percent of the overall population. Further, studies repeatedly find that housing providers often use conviction histories to discriminate against Black applicants, applying different screening policies to white applicants. 

Michigan has a historic opportunity to address these inequities by passing the Fair Chance Access to Housing Act. This bill will:

  1. Prohibit landlords from asking prospective tenants about their conviction histories during the initial screening process.
  2. Postpone any criminal background check until a conditional offer is given to the prospective tenant.
  3. Limit the use of criminal record screening to specific types of convictions within established timeframes.
  4. Allow prospective tenants to request an individualized review of their conviction history and offer evidence of rehabilitation prior to final denial by the landlord.

The Fair Chance Access to Housing Act will set a standard for evaluating prospective tenants in a holistic, nondiscriminatory manner, addressing the widespread discrimination faced by Michiganders with conviction histories and its outsized impact on Black residents. Not only has this discrimination been found to violate the Fair Housing Act, it also goes against best practices for tenant screening from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. This bill sets a common standard for tenant screening processes based on current research to ensure that all prospective tenants are screened fairly and those with conviction histories receive a second chance.

By increasing access to housing for people with conviction histories, this legislation will help to disrupt the cycle of homelessness and incarceration, making all our communities safer. Stable housing is an essential foundation for rebuilding one’s life after arrest or incarceration. Research shows that housing enables people to rebuild support networks, find employment, and avoid additional convictions. Furthermore, stable housing has been found to reduce the odds that someone will return to prison by 83 percent. Consequently, this legislation will propel the successes of recent Clean Slate legislation and the state’s current historically low recidivism rate.

Now is the time to pass the Fair Chance Access to Housing Act so that all Michiganders can find a place to call home. Stories like Tony Roy’s show how much a home means to someone rebuilding their life after arrest or incarceration. People who have completed their sentences should be met with opportunities—not barriers—as they transition home. We request your support for this bill and look forward to working with you.


Nation Outside

The Vera Institute of Justice


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *