Big government at work: Seattle set to prevent landlords from considering applicants’ criminal records

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government solve all problems

Get this: While permitted to deny housing to a registered sex offender, you STILL have to provide a LEGITIMATE reason for doing so. Liberals are insane.

From Seattle TimesSeattle landlords would be almost completely prohibited from screening prospective tenants based on their criminal histories, under a proposed ordinance approved by a City Council committee Tuesday.

The only people who could be denied housing based on their criminal histories would be those listed on sex-offender registries due to adult convictions. And landlords denying housing to such sex offenders would still need to state a legitimate business reason for doing so.

The proposed ordinance cleared the civil-rights committee with a 6-0 vote, which means the full nine-member council will almost certainly approve it. A final vote is scheduled for Monday.

Some landlords say they should be allowed to consider the criminal histories of prospective tenants in order to better protect their property and other tenants.

Proponents of the legislation say people who already have served their time shouldn’t be again punished by landlords. They say people denied by landlords based on their criminal histories can end up on the street and are more likely to reoffend.

“Nobody is more safe when people who have criminal backgrounds are unhoused,” said Councilmember Lisa Herbold, chair of the committee and a sponsor of the ordinance with Council President Bruce Harrell.

The version of the legislation that Mayor Ed Murray sent to the council in Junesaid landlords would be allowed to consider criminal convictions less than two years old, and it said landlord-occupied buildings with four or fewer units would be exempt.

But the civil-rights committee voted unanimously Tuesday to eliminate the 2-year look-back clause and nix the exemption for small, landlord-occupied buildings.

Councilmember Mike O’Brien brought forward the amendments, receiving support from Herbold and council members Debora Juarez, Sally Bagshaw, Kshama Sawant and M. Lorena González. Harrell and council members Rob Johnson and Tim Burgess didn’t attend the committee meeting.

A Herbold amendment approved Tuesday calls for the new regulations to be evaluated by the city auditor, with a report due by the end of 2019.

In addition to criminal convictions unrelated to sex-offender registries, the proposed Fair Chance Housing ordinance would prohibit landlords from looking at pending criminal charges, arrests not resulting in convictions or juvenile records, including juvenile convictions causing people to be listed on sex-offender registries as adults.

Under current law, landlords can deny housing to tenants for arrests that happened within seven years, including arrests not resulting in convictions, according to Herbold. “Landlords will still be able to screen applicants based on employment, credit scores, income ratios or other criteria,” Herbold said in a statement.

“For a criminal justice system that disproportionately arrests people of color, punishing someone who hasn’t been found guilty is a true injustice,” she added.

“Blocking formerly incarcerated people from accessing stable housing or a job is an extrajudicial punishment and is also a recipe for recidivism and less safety for our communities. I would expect anyone in favor of a safer Seattle to support this bill.

The ordinance would take effect 150 days after being signed by the mayor, with the Seattle Office of Civil Rights taking responsibility for enforcing the new regulations.

There may be new costs to the city, but those have yet to be determined, according to a City Hall analysis of the legislation.

The push for the ordinance began in late 2015, when a group of local organizations led by the Tenants Union of Washington State and Columbia Legal Services started a campaign called FARE — Fair Access to Renting for Everyoe.

In early 2016, Murray convened a task force on the issue, including representatives from both landlord and tenants groups.

Tuesday’s meeting was the fourth at which Herbold’s committee discussed the legislation.

DCG

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