Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Public Comment Period Extended for Proposal to Remove Criminal Conviction Restrictions for Fair Housing Testers


The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has extended the public comment date for its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would remove criminal conviction restrictions for fair housing testers by 9 days, to January 11, 2024. To do this, HUD has submitted a notice to the Federal Register, which can be found here.

This is part of the Biden administration’s government-wide initiative to give criminals a second chance.  Besides making HUD programs as inclusive as possible for criminals, HUD says the proposed rule will ensure that it can “fully investigate criminal background screening policies that are potentially discriminatory under federal civil rights laws by using testers with actual criminal backgrounds.”

HUD published its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Federal Register on October 31, 2023, and provided for a 60-day public comment period. The proposed rule aims to eliminate the agency’s restrictions on the use of fair housing testers with prior felony convictions or certain other convictions - such as prior felony, fraud, or perjury convictions - by nonprofit Fair Housing agencies. Fair housing testers provide invaluable support to HUD and HUD’s fair housing partners by taking part in housing transactions to screen for discrimination. The original announcement of the proposed rule can be found here.

HUD has received feedback from multiple interested persons requesting additional time to review the rule and provide comments. For example, Judicial Watch has summarized "Even those who agree with second chances may reasonably question if convicted felons should participate in federal investigations. " In response to these requests, HUD has extended the public comment period for 9 days, to January 11, 2024. HUD continues to invite all interested parties and members of the public to submit their views, comments, and recommendations for improvement in HUD’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

Comments may be submitted electronically through https://www.regulations.gov/document/HUD-2023-0091-0001 or through the methods described in the proposed rule.

Read the December 7, 2023 HUD press release.

Read the November 6, 2023 Judicial Watch article.

Photo Credit: Photo by Tia Cunningham on Unsplash.