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The Tide is Turning on Accepting Felons

Over the past few years, there has been a swing in the perception of felons as renters. Part of that change has been due to Fair Housing concerns of disparate impact, and now we are seeing real-time changes to company screening criteria. We recently released our 2018 Resident Credit Screening Research Report (free download), and one of the questions asked whether the responder accepted felons at their communities. The “yes” answer changed little, from 6% to 8%, but the “Yes, but only after a certain number of years” answer saw a dramatic change over the past two years, from 39% in 2016 to 57% in 2018. Clearly, our industry is becoming more comfortable with the idea of accepting felons, as long as the felony occurred a certain distance in the past. We also asked, “Do you differentiate between violent, non-violent, and sex offenses in the screening process?” In this case, we saw a clear trend towards reviewing the offense on a case by case basis rather than painting all felonies with the same brush. There appears to be an attempt to identify non-violent offenders and offer more lenience relative to a violent offender. It will be interesting to see how companies assess these changes after they obtain more data about past felons who now live at their communities. Update:  After publishing this blog, Anne Sadovsky sent me a message with several relevant notes.  She said it would be ok to share here: Companies should be using third party for running applications.These companies a......
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Can Felons Make Good Renters?

There is a common saying that if you "do the crime, then you do the time".  But what happens when even though "time" was for 10 years, the punishment ends up being for life?  That is the prospect for felons in America, as their ability to operate a normal life after their sentence is extremely difficult, as nobody wants to take the risk with someone with a record. This issue has society wide implications, as we ask ourselves whether it is healthy for a society to not allow people to have a second chance.  If someone isn't allowed to start fresh with a new job and a place to live, they are much more likely to fall back into an illegal lifestyle as they have no other choices. For us in multifamily, we may appreciate the broad societal implications, but do we really want to take on the risk of bringing ex-felons, even if they are non-violent, into our communities?  Rather than taking this issue from a societal point of view, and whether it is somehow our "duty" to house felons, I wonder if there is an approach that sees this as an opportunity rather than a burden.  The reality is that while many people with felony records are hardened criminals who will continue to do illegal activities, there are many that regret the mistakes of their youth, and simply want to have a normal life like the rest of us.  So I want to get the opinion of the Insider......
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