TRENTON, NJ - Legislation spearheaded by Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly (D-Paterson) and Assemblywoman Angela McKnight (D-Jersey City) to increase housing opportunities for previously convicted individuals was approved by the New Jersey General Assembly Thursday by a vote of 45-16-5.
The bill, named the “Fair Chance in Housing Act,” would restrict a housing provider from requiring a housing applicant to complete any housing application that includes any inquiries regarding the applicant’s criminal records prior to the provision of a conditional offer.
“Many times, it is before an applicant even has a chance to explain themselves or discuss the application that they have already been denied housing,” said Wimberly. “Under this bill, landlords are implored to take an honest look at the application process and not paint every individual with a conviction with the same broad stroke. We’re fighting generational poverty, homelessness, and hopelessness through social justice reform measures such as this one.”
Since 2014 similar “Fair Chance Ordinances” have been implemented in 11 major cities across the country including San Francisco, Seattle, Detroit, Minneapolis, Washington DC, and Newark.
“As hard as some may try, many never seem to overcome the stigma of a criminal record. It affects finding employment, securing housing among many other essential needs key to getting their lives on the right track,” said Assemblywoman McKnight. “This legislation aims to provide a fair chance for residents in these situations.”
There are provisions in the bill that would allow a landlord to always reject an applicant based on heinous criminal convictions.
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