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Getting More Formerly Incarcerated People Into Public Housing

The past 10 years have seen a major drop in the number of people with criminal records rejected by the Oakland Housing Authority.
relates to Getting More Formerly Incarcerated People Into Public Housing
REUTERS/Stephen Lam

When Afomeia Tesfai, a research fellow for Human Impact Partners, took a look at the health impacts of public-housing policies on the formerly incarcerated in Oakland, California, she found some good news. Public housing authorities normally have a bad rep for creating policies that make it difficult for those returning from jail to find new, affordable homes. In Oakland, however, former inmates have been finding it a bit easier to get into public housing in recent years, Tesfai found in a new report from the Ella Baker Center.  

Looking at the total number of people whose criminal backgrounds were screened by the Oakland Housing Authority (OHA) between 2006 and 2016, the number of people whose applications for public housing were rejected dropped considerably. Between 2006 and 2011, the rejection rate teetered between 6 and 12 percent, due to criminal background checks. Between 2012 and 2015, however, those rejection rates fell mostly below 2 percent. Between 2010 and 2012, the rejection rate dropped precipitously—from 12.2 percent to less than 1 percent, as seen in the chart below.