Housing Returning Citizens Webinar on April 8 and Reentry Council Report

Register for Laura Schwartz’s webinar for LIHTC owners and property managers on housing returning citizens. The webinar is hosted by the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania and will take place on Wednesday, April 8, 2020 from 12 PM – 1 PM EST.

The Pennsylvania Reentry Council’s 2020 report does a great job of highlighting the priority of housing to returning citizens, as well as the unavailability of this resource. RHLS advocated for a change in the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency’s (PHFA) Qualified Allocation Plan (QAP) so that developments targeting  returning citizens would be eligible for special consideration when the Agency awards Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC).  Pennsylvania was one of the first states to do this. Two current RHLS clients, including the TLC Work-Based Training Program in Harrisburg, Senior Staff Attorney, Kim Dolan, is working on will not only set aside apartments for returning citizens but will provide job training and apprenticeships in construction.

One way RHLS is working on increasing housing opportunities for returning citizens is by educating landlords about the appropriate (and inappropriate) uses of criminal records in tenant selection–too often rental decisions are made in ways that are impermissible under current HUD guidelines and fair housing law. Refusing to rent to someone with a criminal record contributes not only to increased homelessness among returning citizens but to recidivism and re-incarceration.  As the PARC report mentions, Pennsylvania  has a 3 year recidivism rate of 67%, which Attorney General Shapiro has rightly called “unacceptable” and evidence of a “broken system.”

On April 8th, Laura Schwartz will moderate a Criminal Records 101 webinar sponsored by the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania, targeting LIHTC owners and property managers.  We want owners and managers to understand that when they make rental decisions that don’t comply with  Fair Housing Law, they expose themselves to potential litigation and liability.  We’ll be sharing “best practices” and model screening policies. 

Laura is the co-chair of the Philadelphia Reentry Coalition‘s Housing Subcommittee.  The Reentry Coalition has 115 membership organizations (service providers, advocates, returning citizens, faith-based groups and local, state and federal agencies) who work together to coordinate reentry efforts for the 25,000 adults returning each year to Philadelphia from jails and prisons.