- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Sen. Kamala D. Harris and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Wednesday announced legislation designed to cut down on barriers to public housing assistance for ex-convicts.

“Too many people become involved in our criminal justice system and serve their time only to return home to face additional barriers to employment, education and housing,” said Ms. Harris, a 2020 Democratic presidential contender from California.

The legislation would ban “1-strike” policies that allow tenants to be evicted for one incident of criminal activity, as well as “no-fault” policies that can result in families being evicted for criminal activity by a household guest.

It would increase standards of evidence used by public housing authorities when they make screening or eviction decisions based on someone’s criminal history.

The bill would also provide public housing authorities with more funding to help house ex-convicts through Section 8 vouchers for low-income households and authorizes $10 million in “bonus funding” for homeless service providers.

The bill would also ensure tenants evicted, or housing applicants denied, because of past criminal activity are given sufficient written notice of the reasons and an opportunity to appeal.

“The denial of basic necessities to formerly incarcerated people does not make our communities safer,” said Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, New York Democrat. “Denying housing to those that have been formerly incarcerated increases recidivism. Today we are taking a step to make our communities safer.”

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, a hero to grassroots activists on the left, has not yet endorsed a presidential candidate. But she has recently offered praise for Ms. Harris, as well as other 2020 contenders such as Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and former Obama administration official Julián Castro of Texas.

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