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Access to Housing Focus of Proposed Bill

Senator Kamala Harris (D-California) and Rep. Alexandrea Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) collaborated to introduce the Fair Chance at Housing Act of 2019, according to CBS News. 

The bill is aimed to make it easier for people with criminal records to find housing, and define what can and cannot be legally scrutinized when those with a criminal records to apply for federal housing assistance.

Also, the bill would make it more difficult to evict tenants convicted of one criminal offense, and it would prevent the eviction of family members unaware of the guilty person’s actions. 

This bill comes shortly after Harris, who is also a Democratic Presidential candidate introduced a $100 billion plan to help increase homeownership among minorities. 

In relation to the proposed Fair Chance at Housing Act, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) stated that around 100 million adults have a criminal record of some kind. 

Harris and Ocasio-Cortez’s bill would turn recommendations made by HUD in 2016, such as banning blanket “1-strike” policies allowing tenants to be evicted for a single criminal incident, no matter how minor, into law. Proposed items of the bill also includes banner “no-fault” policies, which allows an entire family to be evicted for one household member’s criminal activity, even if the family had no knowledge of it. 

According to the report, the bill would separate violent and minor crimes. Convictions, including drug offenses where the person served fewer than 10 years, or where the offenses related to fees or payment associated to incarceration could no longer prevent someone from seeking federal housing assistance. 

In addition to this proposed bill, the U.S. House of Representatives passed several bills offered by the Financial Services Committee related to housing.  

  • H.R. 456, Emphasizing the Importance of State Regulators, a bipartisan resolution emphasizing the investor protection and education missions of state and federal security regulators and calling on the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to collaborate with state security regulators.
  • H.R. 1988, the Protect Affordable Mortgages for Veterans Act of 2019, bipartisan legislation which addresses unintended administrative complications that resulted from implementation of Section 309 of S. 2155, the “Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act.” This legislation clarifies requirements for certain refinanced U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) mortgage loans to allow them to be securitized by Ginnie Mae, thereby enabling those banks to make additional loans, including to veterans.
  • H.R. 2162, The Housing Financial Literacy Act of 2019, bipartisan legislation that requires the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to provide a 25-basis-point discount in upfront Federal Housing Administration (FHA) single-family mortgage insurance premiums for first-time-homebuyers who complete a housing counseling program to help them sustain homeownership.


About Author: Mike Albanese

A graduate of the University of Alabama, Mike Albanese has worked for news publications since 2011 in Texas and Colorado. He has built a portfolio of more than 1,000 articles, covering city government, police and crime, business, sports, and is experienced in crafting engaging features and enterprise pieces. He spent time as the sports editor for the "Pilot Point Post-Signal," and has covered the DFW Metroplex for several years. He has also assisted with sports coverage and editing duties with the "Dallas Morning News" and "Denton Record-Chronicle" over the past several years.

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