Monday, March 28, 2016

Ex offenders are people too

Sometimes it's startling how reluctant we are to extend even a basic level of humane consideration .
The Housing Authority of New Orleans is seeking to extend a policy that tries to make it easier for people with limited rap sheets to obtain public housing.

The change would make the criminal background screening procedures HANO is proposing for for its its own units mandatory for the private entities that now manage a majority of HANO’s properties.

If the changed plans are approved by the authority’s board, it would be a victory for activists who clamored for that modification last week, saying that an older proposal didn’t do enough to afford ex-offenders an opportunity to be reunited with their families.
And this policy change really is about doing the bare minimum.
Currently, the agency bars applicants who have been convicted on illegal drug possession or alcohol-related charges at least twice in the three months before they submit their applications. But the authority now wants to flag all those who have “engaged in the behavior” within a year of their applications. The more generalized policy is too broad, advocates say.

“This policy grants HANO and private managers the ability to deny public housing to individuals engaging non-destructively in drugs and alcohol based on a discretionary and vague standard,” Voice of the Ex-Offender executive director Norris Henderson said. “We all know that Americans of all income levels use drugs and alcohol, and this should not be used to divide our families.”
The discriminatory nature of all of that should be obvious. But that's probably also the point.

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