Prince George's County's Fair Housing Proposal for Returning Citizens: Bill CB-097-2023
In response to the problem of housing discrimination linked to criminal history, the Prince George's County Council has presented CB-097-2023,, which is titled "Returning Citizens Fair Chance to Housing."This bill aims to level the playing field by prohibiting landlords from inquiring about an applicant's criminal history during the housing application process.
Collateral consequences, in particular, play a detrimental role in the lives of returning residents, who often find themselves without housing, employment, or connections to vital social institutions upon reentry into society. This, in turn, fuels a heartbreaking cycle that perpetuates recidivism, as the statistics reveal: around 70 percent of those released from prison end up back in custody within five years—a heartbreaking figure that has shown little improvement over the past three decades.
Another pressing issue our nation faces is the deep racial disparity within the criminal justice system. People of color frequently find themselves disproportionately represented in this system, intensifying the adverse consequences of collateral penalties on both economically disadvantaged and racially diverse communities. The results are wide-ranging, encompassing a substantial wealth gap along racial lines, disparities in health outcomes, and wage disparities that further exacerbate racial divisions. This is a multifaceted issue of considerable complexity, necessitating comprehensive and thoughtful consideration to effect meaningful change.
Who Stands to Be Affected?
CB-097-2023 has the potential to impact various stakeholders within Prince George's County. It's essential to consider the potential benefits and concerns of this proposed legislation.
Returning Citizens: CB-097-2023 provides returning citizens and individuals with criminal convictions a fairer opportunity to secure housing, reducing the hurdles they face when seeking stable accommodation.
Community Inclusivity: Prohibiting inquiries into criminal history contributes to more inclusive and diverse communities by removing housing barriers and promoting social cohesion.
Advocacy for Fair Housing: CB-097-2023 aligns with the efforts of organizations advocating for fair housing and social justice, as it addresses systemic inequalities related to housing.
Local Economy: Stable housing can increase employment opportunities and contributions to the local economy through rent payments and community spending.
Community Safety: Although not its primary goal, CB-097-2023 may indirectly enhance community safety by reducing the risk of homelessness and supporting successful reintegration into society.
Potential Concerns and Impacts:
Landlords and Housing Providers: Some landlords and property managers may be concerned about their ability to assess potential risks associated with renting to individuals with certain criminal histories, arguing that access to this information helps ensure safety and well-being.
Other Tenants: Existing tenants may express concerns about the safety and well-being of individuals with violent criminal histories who move into the same housing complex, impacting their quality of life.
Property Values: Homeowners in neighborhoods with rental properties may fear that property values could decline, affecting their investments and the neighborhood's desirability.
Enforcement Costs: The Office of Human Rights will enforce CB-097-2023, potentially incurring costs related to handling and investigating housing discrimination complaints.
Legal and Advocacy Groups: Some advocates for criminal justice reform and fair housing may be concerned about potential abuse or exploitation of the legislation, emphasizing the need for balanced safeguards.
This bill was presented and referred to the Planning, Housing and Economic Development (PHED) at the last Council meeting. If you have any questions or concerns about this bill, contact Council Member Burroughs the bill's sponsor.