Housing authorities run criminal background checks and consider these records when evaluating public housing applicants. According to the New York City Public Housing Authority, you may be eligible if you do "not endanger the welfare and safety of other residents." The same general principle applies to public housing applicants nationwide.
Since a criminal background check is conducted during the application process, current public housing tenants will not be evicted for past criminal records.
In 1996, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) initiated a One Strike and You're Out policy. This allows public housing authorities to evict tenants for drug or criminal activity, and enforces stricter evaluation guidelines--meaning that more applicants are likely to be denied housing due to their criminal backgrounds.
Under the HUD's One Strike policy, housing authorities also have the power to evict tenants or deny applicants if a member of their household is deemed a threat to other residents because of drug, alcohol or other criminal activity.
According to the Reentry Policy Council, housing authorities denied the applications 45,079 individuals in 1997, attributing 43 percent of these rejections to the One Strike policy.
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