Dear Co-op Counselor; HELP!

Dear Counselor;

I understand that HUD has issued a new rule on criminal convictions in screening applicants for membership; does this mean that we can no longer ask about criminal histories? Please advise.

Criminal Conscious

Dear Conscious;

In April of this year, HUD and the department of justice issued a “guideline” on the use of criminal convictions in housing decisions. The intent of this “guideline” is to avoid a discriminatory impact by the arbitrary use of criminal convictions to exclude a person from housing.   While this directive does not prevent inquiring about criminal histories care must be given when using this information for membership selection.

This is  a brand new direction which will require much analysis of your cooperative’s policies related to member selection and, in particular, decisions based upon an applicant’s or potential occupants criminal history. 

                There is a misconception that the new directive applies only to cooperatives subject to HUD. In reality, this guideline is premised upon fair housing principles, and therefore, is applicable to all housing cooperatives.

                In summation, boards are strongly encouraged to review the new guidance with their cooperative attorney to ensure full compliance.

Signed: Co-op Counselor (CC)