Report: Criminal checks for low-income housing residents go back too far

September 2, 2011

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A new report by the Shriver National Center on Poverty Law argues that many owners of subsidized housing developments in Illinois discriminate against people who have criminal backgrounds — even when their offenses are decades old.

The authors cite one development in Chicago that looks back 99 years for drug-related offenses and criminal convictions. Several check records that go back 25 years.

Neither local nor federal housing authorities set the time frame for such background checks; instead, the building owners do.

Marie Claire Tran-Leung, authored the report, which is called “When Discretion Means Denial.”

“Ideally we would like to see individual public housing authorities and project owners reassess their individual policies,” Tran-Leung said.

She said arrests should not be the sole proof of criminal activity.