LANSING, Mich., June 16, 2022 — Yesterday, state Rep. Abraham Aiyash (D-Hamtramck) hosted a press conference, alongside Nation Outside and state Rep. Kara Hope (D-Holt), to announce the introduction of House Bill 6242. This bill is known as the “Michigan Fair Chance Access to Housing Act.”
The legislation would prohibit landlords from requiring the disclosure of criminal history records for most housing applicants and allow formerly incarcerated individuals to have a fair chance at having their rental application approved.
“All too often, folks who have served their time and paid their debts for a crime or mistake they committed are unable to access housing when they return home because their applications are immediately rejected once a background check is complete,” Aiyash said. “This is an unfair process that denies people in our state with a conviction or arrest their basic right to have a roof over their head.”
“This legislation offers Michiganders a second chance by establishing fair housing practices for those attempting to move their lives forward,” Hope said. “Housing is a basic need, and people should not be denied that because of their past mistakes. Those who have served their time and are ready to become members of our community should not face these barriers to housing.”
Under HB 6242, an individual would be able to file a complaint against a landlord with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, which would be responsible for investigating and determining if a violation occurred. If a landlord was found to be in violation of the Fair Chance Access to Housing Act, the department would be authorized to issue civil fines and order the landlord to comply with the law.
“Every person deserves a fair chance at housing,” said Tony Gant, the policy director for Nation Outside. “This legislation moves Michigan in the right direction, toward safer and more stable communities. Allowing formerly incarcerated people and people with criminal records access to housing makes sense and will lead to better individual outcomes and less recidivism.”
The Fair Chance Access to Housing Act builds upon the successful work by advocates to get a similar ordinance passed at the local level. For example, in 2019, the Detroit City Council passed Fair Chance at Housing legislation, which banned background checks on housing applications. After its passage, Detroit saw an 8% reduction in housing vacancy rates alongside an increase in property values. Additionally, a year later, the Kalamazoo city council passed a similar ordinance, followed by the cities of Ann Arbor and Jackson in 2021.
“Access to stable housing is the foundation for building success after re-entering society and is one of the leading factors for reducing recidivism,” Aiyash said. “This legislation will provide an opportunity for formerly incarcerated people to have a fair chance at securing self-sufficiency and permanency for their families.”