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Both the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently released guidance and statements that help to reduce discrimination in hiring and housing practices for people with criminal records.

The new EEOC Enforcement Guidance calls for employers to assess applicants on an individual basis rather than excluding everyone with a criminal record through a blanket policy.  The new guidance does not prohibit the use of criminal background checks. Rather, it urges employers to consider the “nature of the crime, the time elapsed, and the nature of the job” both in writing a hiring policy and in making a specific hiring decision.

In addition, earlier this month, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan sent a letter clarifying HUD’s position on whether individuals with felony records can live in HUD-subsidized properties. The letter, which was co-signed by HUD’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Housing/Federal Housing Commissioner Carol Galante, was sent to private rental property owners of HUD-assisted properties. Donovan and Galante called on owners “to seek a balance between allowing ex-offenders to reunite with families that live in HUD subsidized housing, and ensuring the safety of all residents.”