“Everyone Deserves a right to a home. The streets are also safer when everyone has a home.”
“Housing is tough to come by. We need to remove the barriers.”
“We are all better when we all do better. Perpetual punishment for some hurts us all.”
You all GET IT! Let’s make sure our legislators do too! Join Nation Outside, Vera Institute of Justice, and our partner organizations for Capitol Day for #HousingNotHurdles on Tuesday, October 17, 2023 at the Michigan State Capitol.
What: Capitol Day for #HousingNotHurdles!
Where: Heritage Hall at the State Capitol in Lansing
When: Tuesday, October 17th from 9am-4pm
Why: We will gather in Lansing to speak with our legislators and rally on the Capitol steps to push for HB 4878, which will increase housing access for people with conviction histories. Join us to demand equal housing for all! We deserve housing, not hurdles! For more information on Fair Chance Housing, check us out here.
Register here: https://bit.ly/CapitolDay2023 Transportation is available and food will be provided. Once registered, you will receive further event details.
The following is a letter to Joe Tate, House Majority Leader that VAAC signed on to with other organizations to urge the passage of HB4878
We, the undersigned organizations and individuals, call on the state of Michigan to pass the Fair Chance Access to Housing Act (HB 4878).
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 disproportionately 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:
- Prohibit housing providers from asking prospective tenants about their conviction histories during the initial screening process.
- Postpone any criminal background check until a conditional offer is given to the prospective tenant.
- Limit the use of criminal record screening to specific types of convictions within established timeframes.
- Allow prospective tenants to request an individualized review of their conviction history and offer evidence of rehabilitation prior to final denial by the housing provider.
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. 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.
The Vera Institute of Justice
A Brighter Way
ACLU of Michigan
Advocacy, ReEntry, Resources, Outreach (A.R.R.O.)
American Friends Service Committee – Michigan Criminal Justice Program
AYA Youth Collective
Center for Employment Opportunities
Citizens for Prison Reform
Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH)
Detroit Disability Power
Detroit Jews for Justice
Detroit Justice Center
Disability Advocates of Kent County
Disability Network Southwest Michigan
Disability Network Washtenaw Monroe Livingston
Disability Network West Michigan
End the Exception Michigan
Fair Housing Center of Metropolitan Detroit
Fair Housing Center of Southeast & Mid Michigan
Fair Housing Center of Southwest Michigan
Fair Housing Center of West Michigan
For Everyone Collective
Formerly Incarcerated, Convicted People and Families Movement (FICPFM)
Full Circle Communities, Inc.
Get 2 Seven
Justice for Jon
Kalamazoo County Continuum of Care
Law Enforcement Action Partnership
League of Women Voters of Michigan
Michael Thompson Clemency Project
Michigan Center for Youth Justice
Michigan Coalition Against Homelessness
Michigan Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence (MCEDSV)
Michigan Collaborative to End Mass Incarceration
Michigan Community Action
Michigan League for Public Policy
Michigan Poverty Law Program
Michigan Works! Association
Mikey 23 Foundation
National Association of Social Workers – Michigan
National Housing Law Project
National Lifers of America, Inc.
New Era in Criminal Justice
Next Future Jackson
Power in Passion
Ruth Ellis Center
S&D PJ Housing
Safe & Just Michigan
Shakespeare in Prison, Detroit Public Theatre
Shriver Center on Poverty Law
Silent Cry Inc
The Adolescent Redemptive and Restorative Program
The MADE Institute
The PROACTIVE Project, Inc
Total Reentry Solution
Urban Praxis Workshop
Voting Access for All Coalition
We the People Opportunity Farm, Inc.
Women’s Center of Greater Lansing
17 Winters Foundation, Inc.