Seattle hosting July 13 Town Hall Panel to Discuss Law Making Criminals a Protected Class

Posted By: Sean Martin Advocacy , Announcements , Events , Seattle Laws ,

Next week, on Thursday, July 13, Seattle Councilmember Lisa Herbold is hosting a town hall discussion panel focused on a proposal which will effectively make convicted criminals a protected class in housing. The proposal would prevent landlords from using criminal records older than two years from the date of conviction - not the date of release from prison - when screening applicants

RHAWA needs a strong showing of its membership at this event to send the message that public safety matters, and that landlords are not responsible for solving societal problems which they have not created.

RHAWA strongly opposes this legislation, and asks that you join us in making our voices heard during public comment at the event.

Event Details

When: Thurs, July 13th; 5:00 to 7:00 pm
Where: Seattle City Hall, Bertha Knight Landes Room

Your presence in-person at this event is the most effective and valuable way you can participate in this discussion.

Those unable to attend the discussion panel in person are still strongly encouraged to email and call Seattle City Council to voice your opposition to this proposal.

Email Sean Martin for more information and to rsvp that you're attending.

RHAWA's talking points against this proposal are as simple as 1 - 2 - 3:

1. The US Supreme Court's ruling on "disparate impact" and HUD guidelines regarding how landlords may use criminal records when screening an applicant already comprehensivley cover this issue.

  • Landlords are already required to screen applicants for criminal records on an individualized basis, considering the nature and severity of the offense, the age at time of conviction, and factors which would indicate the individual has been rehabilitated.
  • No blanket policies denying applicants on the basis of having a criminal conviction in their history are allowed.
  • Landlords must be able to show a business risk exists when denying an applicant due to a criminal conviction.
  • Washington State law does not allow landlords to see any criminal convictions seven years or older since the final date of disposition. The seven year time frame was selected based on data showing an ex-offender who has not re-offended is no longer a higher risk to commit a crime than the general populace.

2. Federal data shows that 76% of ex-offenders re-entering society commit another crime within 5 years after their release. Property offenders are the most likely to be rearrested, with 82.1 percent of released property offenders arrested for a new crime.

  • The legislation would only allow landlords to look at criminal offenses with a date of conviction occurring within two years of the date of application for tenancy. This means that landlords could not deny an applicant who has been convicted for any type of serious crime as they would have been incarcerated for longer than two years, while convictions for petty offenses would still be searchable.
  • State law allows landlords to review the past 7 years of an applicant's criminal records history.

3. Public safety should be the ultimate litmus test when evaluating this legislation. Simply put, this proposal places renters and neighbors demanding safe housing at a higher risk of living next to an individual who has committed a violent crime and may be a high risk to re-offend.

We hope to see you next Thursday, July 13th!