- Associated Press - Monday, March 7, 2016

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - It’s been nearly three years since the Housing Authority of New Orleans announced its intention to drop barriers keeping residents with criminal records out of public housing.

The New Orleans Advocate reports (https://bit.ly/1QBuvaE ) HANO and its partners will vet applicants with checkered pasts.

The draft guidelines the agency announced last month, however, for the first time outline just how HANO and its partners will vet applicants with checkered pasts. Agency officials hope to present the rules to the HANO board of commissioners for consideration this month.

The move to finally implement the 2013 policy follows advocacy groups’ calls to end what they considered to be stalling. Those groups say it’s necessary to loosen HANO’s tenant restrictions, given the discrimination that ex-convicts face in the broader housing market and because the rules can keep offenders with relatives in public housing away from their families.

The delay was due, at least partly, to HANO’s shift from federal to local control in 2014. HANO’s new management said it wanted to be sure that the plan drawn up by David Gilmore, who had headed the agency under federal receivership, was in accord with best practices.

New Executive Director Gregg Fortner also expressed reservations about going too far in loosening the screening process.

Under the recently announced proposal, officials would weigh public housing and Section 8 applicants’ convictions against a set of screening criteria. Depending on the nature and date of their conviction, the applicant either would be admitted to public housing or designated for further review.

A panel will scrutinize applicants who have more egregious or recent convictions. It will consider those applicants’ criminal history, record of drug or alcohol abuse treatment, community ties and employment history, among other factors, before granting or denying admission.


Information from: The New Orleans Advocate, https://www.neworleansadvocate.com

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