Other public housing agencies across the country have reduced their dependence on criminal background checks. In doing so, they’ve aided much needed criminal justice reform efforts, reduced homelessness, helped people successfully exit incarceration and kept families together.
It’s time for Tacoma to do the same.
As Mirra and much of the research suggests, reviewing an applicant’s criminal history — as THA currently does — serves a purpose, but a very small one.
When relied on too heavily, it does far more harm than good, excluding tenants who need and deserve the help while also taking a toll on the surrounding community and perpetuating harmful racial disparities.