By a 3-2 vote, Los Angeles County supervisors made it easier for people released from jail or prison to apply for federally subsidized housing, the Los Angeles Times reports. The county had previously rejected any applicant who was on probation or parole from receiving rent assistance under Section 8 of the federal housing act. In seeking the change, Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Mark Ridley-Thomas said that policy only “prevents family reunification and integration back into [the] community” and makes rehabilitation tougher.
Under the new county guidelines, an applicant’s probation or parole status will not matter and he or she generally will not be disqualified for drug offenses unless they happened within the last two years. Stricter standards will remain for violent offenses. Under federal guidelines, registered sex offenders are not allowed in the program. Kuehl noted that landlords will still be able to screen applicants and that the change in standards does not give people with criminal backgrounds any sort of priority over others. “It’s simply about giving people who are trying to reform their lives a fair shot at living someplace, not just on the street,” she said.