Singleton Bill to Establish ‘Fair Chance in Housing Act’ Clears Committee

Trenton – Legislation, which would establish the “Fair Chance in Housing Act” and would provide certain housing rights for people with criminal records, clears the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee today. The bill is sponsored by Senate Community and Urban Affairs Chair Senator Troy Singleton.

The bill, S-250, would restrict a landlord from requiring an applicant to complete any housing application that includes inquiries on the applicant’s criminal record prior to giving a conditional offer. A landlord would also be unable to inquire about an applicant’s criminal record prior to making a conditional offer.

“There is a staggering amount of data on the national level that shows securing housing is one of the key obstacles to reducing recidivism,” said Senator Singleton (D-Burlington). “This measure will allow those who have paid their debt to society to move forward with their lives in a productive manner with a roof over their heads.”

Currently, cities such as Newark, Seattle, Detroit and Washington D.C. have enacted ordinances that have implemented “ban the box” in housing policies in order to increase access to housing for individuals with criminal records.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, approximately a third of all American adults have a criminal record. Data from New Jersey’s criminal justice system, compiled by the Prison Policy Initiative has indicated that the State has a staggering 191,000 residents behind bars or under criminal justice supervision. Research has also shown that New Jersey leads the nation in racial disparities in incarceration due to people of color being overrepresented in the State’s prisons and jail population.

The bill was released from committee by a vote of 3-2.

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