New screening criteria being considered
January 3 meeting provides opportunity for dialogue
SEATTLE—January 2, 2008—New screening criteria with respect to applicants' criminal history will be considered in a stakeholder meeting scheduled for 9 a.m. on Jan. 3 in the PorchLight Community Room at 907 NW Ballard Way.
Seattle Housing is proposing to modify the criminal background criteria currently in use to be generally less stringent with respect to an applicant’s history of convictions.
Currently the Housing Authority requires a variable waiting period after an applicant has been penalized or jailed for an offense. This waiting period has ranged from 20 years for homicide to two years for burglary or criminal assault. Seattle Housing is proposing to change this waiting period to a uniform time of 12 months. This is the standard currently in use by King County Housing Authority.
According to Lisa Cipollone-Wolters, the proposed changes will increase efficiency and understanding of the rules and regulations by instituting a uniform standard.
"We see this process as a way to reduce regulatory barriers to housing for people who are homeless, and to further support the efforts of the Committee to End Homelessness in King County," commented Cippollone-Wolters. Currently, SHA and the King County Housing Authority have different criteria, which causes confusion among people who have applied for housing with both of the local housing authorities.
The suggested new criteria will continue to conform to regulations stipulated by the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. HUD currently mandates denials of applicants for certain past criminal activity.
SHA would continue to deny Housing Choice Vouchers in accord with these regulations, which include denial for methamphetamine production, a consistent pattern of violent behavior and other serious crimes. For example, if a household has been evicted from federally assisted housing for a drug-related crime, that household is denied a voucher for a period of three years from the eviction.
Within the guidelines cited above, Seattle Housing has discretion to grant or deny applications based on numerous factors including proof that household members have completed drug rehabilitation.
Seattle Housing Authority’s Housing Choice Voucher Administration Plan would be amended to reflect the changed criteria.
These regulations apply only to eligibility for a voucher. Landlords in the program are expected to conduct their own independent reference checks and may deny housing to an applicant based on their determination that the applicant does not meet their own tenant suitability standards.