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Reversing ‘One Strike’ Policies: Fair Chance at Housing Act Introduced

David Weber, Policy Analyst

On July 10, 2019, Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) introduced companion bills in the Senate and House called the Fair Chance at Housing Act. Both the sponsors and the supporters of the bills present them as part of larger criminal justice system reform efforts, and as a means of minimizing the harm caused by ‘tough on crime’ policies of the 1980s and 1990s. “This legislation is one of many steps that need to be taken to repair our broken criminal justice system,” said Representative Ocasio-Cortez in a press release. “The denial of basic necessities to formerly incarcerated people does not make our communities safer. Denying housing to those that have been formerly incarcerated increases recidivism. Today we are taking a step to make our communities safer,” she said. Senator Harris echoed those comments. ‘As our country continues working toward much-needed reform of our criminal justice system, I am proud to work with Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez to ensure formerly incarcerated individuals and their families have access to safe and affordable housing as they transition back into their community,” she said. “By requiring a higher standard of evidence and a more holistic review process, we are taking a significant step toward giving Americans a fair chance to succeed.”

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