March 28, 2016

Housing for Adults with Criminal Records

OLR Report 2016-R-0023 updates OLR Report 2006-R-0062 by (1) summarizing laws concerning ex-offenders’ and supervised offenders’ access to rental housing, (2) identifying current state initiatives to increase the availability of rental housing to ex-offenders, and (3) identifying legislative options for increasing such housing.

Generally, state and federal law allows public (i.e., housing authority) and private landlords discretion to reject applicants with a criminal record.  In some cases, however, federal law requires federal housing authorities to reject applicants with certain criminal histories (e.g. methamphetamine production).  Importantly, under federal and state statutes and case law, landlords cannot use applicants’ criminal records as a pretext for rejecting them for an illegal reason, such as on the basis of their race or religion.

Most of Connecticut’s initiatives to increase housing options for individuals with criminal records focus on supervised offenders and individuals exiting the correction system without supervision.
The report identified one state initiative that addresses the housing needs of ex-offenders: the Connecticut Collaborative on Re-entry’s (CCR) supportive housing program.  CCR is a partnership between several state agencies and community providers that focuses on individuals who cycle between prison and homeless shelters by making supportive housing available to ex-offenders and supervised offenders.

The report describes two measures that the legislature could consider to increase housing for ex-offenders.  Specifically, it could pass legislation explicitly prohibiting housing discrimination on the basis of a criminal record.  It could also expand the role of the state’s certificates of employability by requiring landlords to use them in applicant screening.

For more information, read the full report here.