HUD sponsored

NFHTA Forum | Strategies for Addressing Discrimination: Housing Providers' Use of Criminal Records


July 20, 2022 | 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM EDT




"We recognize that people are more than their criminal records, that they are whole persons with whole life experiences, and what we are looking to do is ensure that our housing providers that we fund and oversee are really conducting an individualized assessment of risk with regard to criminal records."

Richard Cho, Senior Advisor, Office of the Secretary, HUD

On March 31, 2022, President Biden declared April as Second Chance Month, emphasizing the importance of helping persons who have had criminal involvement reenter society, reunite with their families, and find stable and safe homes. On April 12, 2022, HUD Secretary Fudge issued a memorandum instituting an agency-wide effort to review HUD's programs to ensure HUD, its funding recipients, and program participants are as inclusive as possible of individuals with criminal involvement. This directive highlights the importance of applying the principles of the HUD Office of General Counsel's 2016 Guidance on Application of Fair Housing Act Standards to the Use of Criminal Records by Providers of Housing and Real Estate-Related Transactions, which cannot be overemphasized.

In furtherance of the 2016 Guidance, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Demetria McCain for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) issued a memorandum on June 10, 2022, highlighting the 2016 Guidance and reinforcing the need for FHEO investigators, Fair Housing Initiatives Program grantees (FHIPs), and Fair Housing Assistance Program agencies (FHAPs) must be aware of ways in which criminal background screening policies and practices can violate the Fair Housing Act.

The National Fair Housing Training Academy (NFHTA) and HUD's Office of General Counsel hosted a public forum focused on how housing providers' criminal records policies may violate the Fair Housing Act and other civil rights laws. Panelists reviewed the 2016 Guidance, discussed tips for conducting investigations related to the use of criminal background information, and provided best practices for housing providers who may be concerned about potential liability related to the use of criminal records. Over 1,258 fair housing partners joined in this conversation.


  1. Welcome from moderator, Cashauna Hill, Executive Director at the Louisiana Fair Housing Action Center
  2. Opening remarks by Demetria McCain, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, HUD
  3. Opening remarks by Richard Cho, Senior Advisor, Office of the Secretary, HUD
  4. Conversation with Anthony Johnson, Fair Housing Advocate
  5. Introduction of panelists:
    • Stephon Woods, Trial Attorney, Fair Housing Enforcement Division, Office of General Counsel, HUD
    • Anna Bruton, Disability and Fair Housing Attorney, Office of Housing Compliance, Office of General Counsel, HUD
    • Maggie Donahue, Trial Attorney, Fair Housing Enforcement Division, Office of General Counsel, HUD
    • Natalie Maxwell, Managing Attorney, National Housing Law Project
  6. Presentation and discussion by panelists on:
    • Disparities in the Criminal Justice System
    • Explanation and examples of the three theories of liability under the Fair Housing Act (discriminatory intent, discriminatory effects, refusal to make reasonable accommodations)
    • Discussion on criminal history and direct threat
    • Best Practices for investigators, housing providers and landlords
    • Common misconceptions about HUD Public Housing and assisted landlords
    • Resources for finding criminal justice statistics
    • Types of evidence used for discriminatory intent/disparate treatment
    • Lease requirements and addendums
    • Crime free housing programs and nuisance ordinances
  7. Question and answer session moderated by Ms. Hill

A video of the forum has been posted on this page, along with a transcript of the conversation and a robust resources list for your continued reference.

Learning Objectives

  • Recognize how the use of criminal records may violate the Fair Housing Act and other civil rights laws
  • Identify the applicable theories of proof and what evidence is important in conducting investigations related to the use of criminal records
  • Appreciate the importance of statistical evidence in discriminatory effects investigations involving the use of criminal records
  • Understand the requirement for reasonable accommodations to criminal records policies
  • Learn best practices for housing providers in their use of criminal records to screen tenants


This forum is targeted to HUD-funded fair housing organizations (i.e., FHIP and FHAP professionals), fair housing partners (e.g., housing counselors, legal service providers, and civil rights advocates), and public housing authorities, and multi-family housing providers and owners.


Opening Remarks

Demetria McCain Bio

Demetria McCain

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary
Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, HUD
Richard Cho Bio

Richard Cho

Senior Advisor
Office of the Secretary, HUD
Anthony Johnson

Anthony Johnson

Fair Housing Advocate

Live Roundtable

Cashauna Hill Bio

Cashauna Hill

Executive Director
Louisiana Fair Housing Action Center


Maggie Donahue

Maggie Donahue

Trial Attorney
Fair Housing Enforcement Division, Office of General Counsel, HUD


Stephon Woods Bio

Stephon Woods

Trial Attorney
Fair Housing Enforcement Division, Office of General Counsel, HUD


Anna Bruton Bio

Anna Bruton

Disability and Fair Housing Attorney
Office of Fair Housing Compliance, Office of the General Counsel, HUD


Natalie Maxwell Bio

Natalie Maxwell

Managing Attorney
National Housing Law Project


About the Forums

Forums are online conversations designed to allow multi-directional interactions between HUD and its FHIP and FHAP partners around emerging fair housing issues regarding processing complaints, conducting investigations, and managing agencies. Topics will evolve based on partner needs and interests.

Learn More About the National Fair Housing Forums

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Disclaimer: The National Fair Housing Forum webinar series provides training by and to HUD partners, including entities and persons participating in HUD's FHAP Program and FHIP Program. The series offers multidirectional idea sharing in real-time. The views offered by speakers and participants do not necessarily reflect HUD's views. Similarly, unless otherwise noted, documents provided as part of the webinar were created and maintained by other public and private organizations and may not reflect HUD's official position. HUD-produced guidance documents, except when based on statutory or regulatory authority or law, do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. Such guidance documents are intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or HUD policies. The information is not intended to provide legal advice to any individual or entity. Please refer to relevant laws and regulations and/or your own legal advisor before taking any action based on information appearing on this site or any site to which it may be linked. Some materials have been translated into languages other than English; slight variations may have resulted from the translation.

Tags: Fair Housing NFHTA