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

Trenton – The Senate today cleared legislation sponsored by Senator Troy Singleton that would establish the “Fair Chance in Housing Act” to provide certain housing rights for people with criminal records.

The bill, S-250, would restrict a landlord from requiring an applicant to complete any housing application that includes inquiries on their criminal record prior to giving a conditional offer, whether it’s written or verbal.

“There is a staggering amount of data on the national level that shows securing housing is one of the key barriers to reducing recidivism,” said Senator Singleton (D-Burlington), Chair of Senate Community and Urban Affairs. “This measure will allow those who have paid their debt to society to move forward with their lives in a productive manner. Ultimately, having a place to call home provides ex-offenders with a stabilizing platform where they can get back on their feet, maintain employment, avoid homelessness and recidivism, and reconnect with their families.”

Currently, cities such as Newark, Seattle, Detroit and Washington D.C. have enacted ordinances to “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 shown attaining secure housing is important in reducing recidivism rates for adults with a criminal record.

The bill was released from the Senate by a vote of 24-8 and was sent to the Governor for final approval.