In the state of New York and all throughout the United States there are hundreds of thousands of people being denied public housing because they have a previous criminal conviction on their record. According to the Human Rights Watch, they are not only denying housing to dangerous convicted felons, but also to individuals with minor offenses who are of no threat to society. In order to increase public safety, many housing developments have implemented a "one strike" policy where convicted offenders are given no send chances when it comes to public housing. This policy holds the intention to keep potential dangerous tenants out of the housing developments. So now applicants with certain offenses on their criminal record will automatically be excluded for a number of years or for life, even if the offender has proven to be fully rehabilitated since then.
Statistics show that nearly 650,000 men and women are released from prison every year and that just in the last five years that have been at least 3.5 million people convicted of a felony offense. With these statistics in mind, that would mean that nearly four million people are presently ineligible for public housing for the next five years. This is because housing authorities exclude convicted felons from being eligible no matter the nature of their offense. It is important that the federal government keeps an eye on the individuals that are being released from prison and are rejoining the community. The system does seem flawed however, if previous convicted offenders are not able to find any means of public housing.
Due to the nature of this system, the odds are very high that the people with criminal records will ultimately join the other 12.5 million homeless Americans that live on the streets or in shelters. To shed light on the system even further, here are some helpful facts. If you were to be convicted of shoplifting in Pittsburgh, you would be automatically excluded from public housing for four years. For those arrested and convicted for possession of marijuana in Austin, TX you could be excluded from housing for up to seven years. A human rights treaty is in the works however, because the U.S. does recognize that every person has the fundamental right to suitable housing. The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has been signed but not yet ratified.
If you have a previous conviction on your criminal record and you feel that you are being discriminated against by landlords of New York City, then you may have the right to file a claim against them. Contact a New York City landlord tenant attorney from our firm today if you are facing eviction or a lease or tenant's rights dispute.