HANO executive director wants criminal history to be a non-factor for public housing

HANO executive director wants criminal history to be a non-factor for public housing
Published: Mar. 22, 2016 at 1:53 AM CDT|Updated: Mar. 29, 2016 at 5:36 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The Housing Authority of New Orleans wants convicted felons who've served their time to have full access to public housing, but third-party management groups or Section 8 landlords can still deny someone based on past criminal history.

At this time, HANO has a policy in place that suggests management groups or Section 8 landlords should not deny people based on criminal history. However, the landlords are not required to abide by it.

On Monday, more than 100 attended a public hearing at HANO's headquarters in Gentilly to discuss a proposal that would require management groups to follow the policy. The proposal is likely to go forward to Housing and Urban Development for approval.

Read the criminal background screening process here.

"Based on what I've heard tonight, it seems that there is a feeling that the policy is good and it needs to go forward," HANO Executive Director Gregg Fortner said. "We are going to what's in the best interests of our residents and our section 8 participants. The policy as written is the one that we plan to propose to the board for implementation."

Even though HANO already has its own policy against denying housing based on past criminal history, managers and landlords can still put residents through a background check and evict them based on criminal history.

"There are 3200 housing authorities in the country, and by far the proposed policies that we have are the most liberal as far as considering people's conditions and circumstances to make sure that we give people with criminal background histories or any other adverse actions as much opportunity as possibly to gain housing," Fortner said.

This proposal goes to HANO's board for discussion and possible approval next Tuesday.

Fortner is hopeful HUD will approve the measure within the next few months.

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