Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer Introduces the Fair Chance Act to End Housing Discrimination

Monday, December 3, 2018

(Sacramento – December 3, 2018) – Today Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer’s (D – South Los Angeles) introduced Assembly Bill (AB) 53, legislation that will ensure that formerly incarcerated men and women do not experience discrimination when seeking housing.

“Men and women with criminal records face various barriers to re-entering society,” said Assemblymember Jones- Sawyer. “I am re-introducing the Fair Chance Act so that formerly incarcerated individuals, and their families, are able to have a roof over their heads.”

In 2016, the Federal Housing and Urban Development Department (HUD) issued guidance that land lords, property managers, and home owners should not refuse to rent to all individuals with criminal histories. However, this guidance allows land lords to deny housing to an individual with a past conviction, and their family, on a case by case basis, without any opportunity to appeal a landlord’s decision. Furthermore, although HUD has provided guidance regarding renting to individuals with criminal records, there is nothing in federal or state law that guarantees protections from housing discrimination based on past criminal records.

The Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), protects people from housing discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, ancestry, familial status, source of income, disability, or genetic information. Unfortunately, these protections do not apply to individuals with criminal records, or individuals who were charged, but not convicted, of a crim.

“I am proud to stand up and defend the rights of men and women who have been through our criminal justice system,” said Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer. “As Chair of the Assembly Public Safety Committee, I am a strong believer that everyone deserves a second chance, which is why we must “ban the box”, to prevent landlords for inquiring about criminal history prior to offering to rent to an individual – people’s right to housing should not be denied.”

Assemblymember Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer, Sr. represents South Los Angeles, Florence-Firestone, Walnut Park, and a portion of Huntington Park