A story in the June 21st edition of the San Jose Mercury News presents the many challenges to accessible, affordable, and fair housing faced by tenants with prior criminal convictions, even in jurisdictions where pre-screening of prospective tenants for criminal backgrounds is prohibited by law.
The story profiles tenants struggling to access housing and stabilize their lives upon re-entry, and finding that their conviction records exacerbate the already significant barriers to stable housing faced by low-income renters in the Bay Area’s increasingly unaffordable housing market. Advocates from reentry organizations like Root & Rebound provide needed context about these challenges.
BayLegal’s Richmond office Managing Attorney Adam Poe, quoted in the story, speaks to the barriers these tenants face even in cities like Richmond. A Richmond ordinance forbids subsidized housing providers from asking about a tenant’s criminal background until after a provisional lease offer has been made, but lacks enforcement mechanisms.
A current BayLegal case on behalf of a Richmond tenant denied housing on the basis of a criminal record seeks to remedy the harm to the individual client and also to motivate a more serious enforcement effort by the City of Richmond.