Waters Unveils Bill Removing Unfair Barriers to Housing

Measure Would Reform Eviction and Screening Policies

WASHINGTON — Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Committee on Financial Services, today introduced legislation that would remove unfair barriers to obtaining federal housing assistance, such as Public Housing and the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program. The proposal – unveiled during National Fair Housing Month and National Reentry Week – would reform eviction and screening policies so that individuals with criminal backgrounds have a second chance and fair shot at housing assistance.

“Some of these policies are simply unfair: tenants can be evicted for crimes committed by a guest without their knowledge, they can be evicted for a single incident of criminal activity no matter how small the crime, and they can be evicted for criminal activity without much evidence that they actually committed the crime. Moreover, once a tenant is evicted from assisted housing for drug-related criminal activity, they are automatically banned for three years even if it was an unfair eviction,” Ranking Member Waters said.  “This bill would reform the process so that everyone has a fair chance at maintaining access to stable, affordable housing.”

The Fair Chance at Housing Act of 2016 represents a comprehensive overhaul of eviction and screening policies for housing assistance programs under the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Department of Agriculture (USDA). The legislation would raise the standards of evidence for eviction and screening when criminal activity is involved and require public housing authorities and property owners to take a holistic approach in their determinations. For example, they would have to consider mitigating factors, such as how long ago the offense occurred or if the individual is seeking rehabilitation services.

The measure would reduce recidivism and prevent homelessness by helping ex-offenders find stable housing and by ensuring that those currently receiving federal assistance are not unfairly evicted. As the country debates broader criminal justice reforms, Waters expressed particular concern with the negative effects a criminal record may have on an individual’s ability to obtain safe, decent, and affordable housing.

“The current harsh policies for housing assistance are a direct result of the harmful and ineffective legacies of the War on Drugs and the War on Crime,” Waters said. “Far too many Americans now carry a criminal record that limits their opportunities throughout life, despite the fact that they have successfully rehabilitated or taken great strides to change their lives. In particular, it has restricted access to housing assistance, which is a critical part of the rehabilitation and reentry process. The reforms in this bill will help ex-offenders get back on their feet, while ensuring that public housing authorities and owners maintain the authority to ensure the safety of other residents.”

For more details on the bill, view the executive summary and the section-by-section.

The text of the legislation can be found here.

Groups that support the bill include the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA), CSH, the National Housing Law Project (NHLP), the National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH), the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty (NLCHP), the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights (LCCR), the National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund, the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, and the National Disability Rights Network.

“We applaud Representative Waters for her bold actions in addressing the housing barriers faced by people with criminal records,” said Diane Yentel, President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. “This bill will ensure that people who have served their time will have an opportunity to rejoin their families and communities and make the most of their second chance.”

“CSH has helped providers, including public housing authorities, eliminate barriers that deny those returning to our communities access to a home,” said Deborah De Santis, President and CEO of CSH. “The Fair Chance at Housing Act recognizes that we must end the discriminatory and expensive cycle of people endlessly ricocheting between homelessness and incarceration, or we will continue to endure unacceptable rates of despair, poverty and recidivism that directly impact public safety and well-being.”

“No comprehensive approach to ending mass incarceration or achieving criminal justice reform is complete without eliminating the barriers to housing choice that formerly incarcerated people and people with criminal records experience,” said Shanna Smith, President and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance. “The Fair Chance at Housing Act of 2016 is an essential step toward putting a stop to the barriers that people with criminal records face once they’ve paid their debt to society.  This bill is of particular importance to the recovery of African-American and Latino communities, as they have lost many fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, and children due to tough-on-crime policies that have targeted communities of color.  The fair housing community applauds this much-needed legislation and urges its swift passage.”


Ohio Institute Finale

The Supportive Housing Institute in Ohio brought together teams from across the state to learn about creating and operating quality supportive housing for people experiencing homelessness, those prioritized by local Continua of Care and Mental Health and Addiction Service Boards, and adults with developmental disabilities transitioning from institutional settings.

This series helped teams navigate the complex process of developing housing with support services and concluded in January with a finale event that included a presentation by each of the participating teams.


300_SteeleValley_16The Youngstown team includes the Help Hotline, Crisis Center, Mahoning County Mental Health and Recovery Board, CSN, a part of North Coast Behavioral Health Care, Meridian Community Care, and Flying High Inc. Their project proposal is for a 15 unit development made up of one-bedroom apartments for frequent/super utilizers of hospitals.

The Cherry Court Campus team hails from Canton and includes ICAN Housing, Coleman Professional Services, and the Recovery Board of Stark County. This team is working on the design of a new construction development including 14 one-bedroom units and 10 studio units on two adjacent lots with a central park and urban farm.

Gallia County Children’s Home plans to develop 8 one-bedroom units and 4 two-bedroom units as a gut rehab project for individuals and families experiencing homelessness and impacted by mental health conditions.

305_Akron_16The Stoney Point Commons team from Akron is made up of Stock Tober Development, NCR, and Community Support services, along with development consultant John Stock and supportive housing consultant Ted Jones. They have proposed a 68 unit development targeting people facing homelessness including those experiencing chronic homelessness.

The Archives Apartments proposal out of Cleveland is a collaboration between Testa Companies, Welcome House, Inc., and EDEN. This team is working towards applying for funding for a gut rehabilitation project of 24 one-bedroom units for people with developmental disabilities coming out of foster care with one unit for a live-in manager to oversee the two buildings. The adjacent structure will be developed into commercial space and 4 market rate units.

300_BuckUps_16The team from Dayton includes Foundation for the Challenges, UP Development, and the Montgomery County Board of Developmental Disabilities. This development team plans to create a 40 unit single-site building with a 25% set aside for adults with developmental disabilities. Other target populations include people experiencing chronic homelessness and adults with mental health and substance use conditions.

The Muskingum team from Zanesville includes Muskingum Economic Opportunity action Group Inc., Muskingum Behavioral Health, and Fairfield Homes. Their project is a 32 unit single site apartment complex targeting people with substance use disorders, and will be located near downtown Zanesville.

The development team from Mansfield, OH includes Trek Development Group, Mary McCloud Bethune Intervention and Enrichment Center, and the VA. Future projects will include creating scattered site townhomes as well as Veteran focused affordable and supportive housing.

300_MudHens_16The Lincoln Place team from Toledo consists of TASC of North West Ohio, Gould Development and PHRL Development. Lincoln place will include 60 one-bedroom units in a single site project in Central Toledo. The target populations include those exiting the criminal justice system with great barriers sand people facing chronic homelessness with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders.



The Institute is made possible by the support received from the Ohio Housing Finance agency, Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, and the Ohio Capital Corporation for Housing.

Pay for Success Advances in Denver

With the Denver City Council’s approval of two Pay for Success contracts, Denver will begin to provide new supportive housing and wraparound services to 250 chronically homeless individuals. Through a unique financing program called Social Impact Bonds, Denver will use funds from lenders to serve chronically homeless individuals who frequently use the city’s emergency services. CSH has been tapped as the project manager.

Mayor Hancock Announces Social Impact Bonds to Serve First 25 Participants at North Colorado Station (February 16, 2016)

Denver Pay for Success Summary & Denver Pay for Success Fact Sheet (February 16, 2016)

Denver Social Impact Bonds Pay for Success Contract

Denver Ready to Provide New Housing and Services to Homeless

Denver Homelessness Program Funded – The Denver Post


Denver Ready to Provide New Housing and Services to Homeless with City Council Vote Tonight

Social Impact Bond program to help 250 chronically homeless at lower cost

Denver, January 25, 2016 – With the Denver City Council’s approval of two contracts tonight, Denver will begin to provide new permanent supportive housing and wraparound services to 250 chronically homeless individuals in Denver.

Through a unique financing program called Social Impact Bonds, Denver will use funds from lenders to serve chronically homeless individuals who frequently use the city’s emergency services – police, jail, the courts and emergency rooms — at a cost of approximately $7 million per year. The savings and benefits from reduced costs in the criminal justice system will be captured by the city and used to repay lenders for their upfront investment to cover the cost of the program.

“Through this innovative Social Impact Bond program, Denver is serving our most vulnerable population smarter and more effectively by getting these individuals out of a cycle of jail and hospital visits and into permanent supportive housing with wraparound services,” said Mayor Michael B. Hancock. “We’re addressing a critical need to expand affordable housing options and mental health services with this new program, which are priorities of my administration.”

A limited number of homeless individuals will begin moving into new apartment units this month and plans are underway to begin construction on new housing units this spring. Combined, the 210 planned new housing units represents the most ever built for Denver’s homeless in such a short period of time. Forty existing units will also be utilized to provide housing through this program.

“For the first time, the city is paying only for successful impacts on the lives of our homeless,” said Deputy Mayor and Chief Financial Officer Cary Kennedy. “By shifting the focus to preventive services, we can both provide better outcomes for this population, and save taxpayers money.”

Social Impact Bonds are a unique type of performance-based contract where private and/or philanthropic lenders loan funds to nonprofits to accomplish a specific social objective and are repaid based on whether the program achieves its goals.

The city will pay for specific performance outcomes, which if achieved, will measurably improve the lives of participants and generate reduced costs to the criminal justice and health systems. The total private investment of the program is expected to be nearly $8.7 million; while an additional $15 million in Federal resources will be leveraged over the next five years.

“This is not only an opportunity for us as investors to come together to help ensure 250 of our community’s most vulnerable people receive services and housing, but it also allows us to participate in a public-private-nonprofit partnership to address homelessness in Metro Denver, support the nonprofit organizations doing the work and increase funding efficiencies,” said Kate Lyda, Philanthropic Services Director & Impact Investing Specialist at The Denver Foundation. “The Denver Foundation is thrilled to invest in this initiative and to offer our donors and fund-holders an innovative opportunity to invest along with us to change lives and our community.”

“The Social Innovation Fund is tremendously proud to have supported the development of this innovative project through its Pay for Success grant to the Nonprofit Finance Fund,” said Damian Thorman, Director of the Social Innovation Fund. “By deploying permanent supportive housing to 250 of Denver’s residents most in need, and the city only paying for outcomes, this project presents a unique opportunity to at once implement evidence-based solutions to improve outcomes, and at the same time, be the best possible stewards of taxpayer dollars.”

Denver currently spends about $29,000 for each chronically homeless individual who is frequently arrested and in need of medical attention, which includes jail, police, courts, detox, emergency room and other medical costs. Permanent supportive housing will help these individuals lead a more stable and productive life. And will save taxpayer money and free up room in the county jails.

The estimated repayment to investors will be $9.4 million if the program achieves a 35 percent reduction in the number of days that the population spends in jail and if at least 83 percent of all participants remain stably housed for 1 year or longer. The repayment will be less if these outcomes are not achieved.

The full contracts approved by Denver City Council can be found here.

Organizations that are assisting with oversight and coordination of the project include:

  • Corporation for Supportive Housing – CSH (Project Manager)
  • Enterprise Community Partners

The service providers involved in this contract include:

  • Colorado Coalition for the Homeless
  • Mental Health Center for Denver

The commitment of the investors is subject to board or credit approval and final loan execution. The investors involved in this contract include:

  • The Denver Foundation
  • The Piton Foundation
  • The Ben and Lucy Ana Walton Fund of the Walton Family Foundation
  • Laura and John Arnold Foundation
  • Living Cities Blended Catalyst Fund LLC
  • Nonprofit Finance Fund
  • The Colorado Health Foundation
  • The Northern Trust Company

“I thank the Denver City Council and our amazing organizational and lending partners for their support of this ground breaking solution,” the Mayor said. “Together, I believe we will make a meaningful impact on the lives of many vulnerable people and our city as a whole.”

Technical assistance and support to develop the initiative was provided by Social Impact Solutions. Denver also received support from the Harvard Kennedy School’s Social Impact Bond Lab, which provides pro bono technical assistance to state and local governments interested in pursuing Pay for Success and Social Impact Bond contracts.

Congressman Stivers Visits Returning Home Ohio Program

Congressman Steve Stivers recently met with staff from CSH and Faith Mission, located in Columbus, Ohio to meet first-hand people helped through Returning Home Ohio. This program breaks the cycle of homelessness, recidivism and then return to jail by providing those leaving incarceration with safe, stable homes and supportive services to foster successful community reintegration. Supportive services include employment supports, health care, mental and behavioral health, and ongoing case management to assist tenants in reaching their goals.

305_Congressman St and Tenant_15During this site visit, Congressman Stivers met one of the participants (pictured on the left), who discussed the importance of stable housing as he seeks to go back to school, find employment, and improve his health.

The stability of supportive housing has helped this participant lay the foundation for a strong life-plan and access the services he needs to ensure successful outcomes.

Congressman Stivers’ interest in Returning Home stems in part from his service on the US House Financial Services Committee, which has jurisdiction over US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs.

You Can Make A Difference Today

For RWJF "Keeping Families Together" BRONX, NEW YORK - MAY 19: Jose Soto, his wife, Evelyn, and their daughter Destiny, 3, spend time together in their apartment and neighborhood in the Bronx, New York May 19, 2010.

It’s Giving Tuesday


Today nonprofit organizations, local businesses, philanthropists and people like you come together to promote and participate in giving to ensure better, vibrant and stronger communities throughout the country.

We hope you will take a few minutes this morning to support CSH, the national leader in creating access to affordable housing and support services for vulnerable people and families.

CSH is elevating the needs of families like Sonya, Joe and their daughter, Katie, impacted by serious mental health issues, recurring homelessness and repeat involvement with child welfare agencies. To escape their downward spiral of trauma and despair, they needed a safe, stable and affordable home as well as access to mental health and other services. Supportive housing came to their rescue with a nice apartment, and the case management and the recovery programs they need to move forward, together, as a family.

There are thousands of families like Sonya, Joe and Katie who need our help. Your tax-deductible gift can transform their lives from hopelessness to ones where they are housed and healthy.

We thank you for your support and generosity.


Click Here to Donate to CSH Now

Oak Foundation Bolsters CSH Reach for Quality

oakIn their pursuit to embrace housing interventions that stress quality, the Oak Foundation has helped sustain several CSH initiatives designed to focus on preventing homelessness by funding proven solutions that improve the economic and social well-being of marginalized youth, adults and families.

Working with CSH, the Oak Foundation has challenged us and other grantees to find ways to help these vulnerable populations while insisting that the supportive housing providers we fund and counsel adhere to the highest standards of quality in the delivery of their programs and services.

A CSH hallmark is our Dimensions of Quality Supportive Housing initiative, which strives to build the capacity of supportive and affordable housing in an environment that encourages, creates and operates high-quality, effective and sustainable housing and services.

Funding from the Oak Foundation helps CSH increase the economic self-sufficiency of those experiencing homelessness and supportive housing residents by:

  • equipping homeless people and those at risk of homelessness with skills to move towards economic stability, enabling them to overcome barriers to employment and encouraging sustained employment;
  • increasing the impact of entitlements and defending them against cuts; and
  • maximizing income through wage growth and enabling people to secure and maintain their entitlements.

To improve the supply of quality, affordable housing, the Oak Foundation partners with us so that CSH can effectively:

  • identify and explore enhancements to systems for developing and financing affordable housing, including supportive housing;
  • increase the social value of existing or planned supportive housing by enhancing its management.
  • advocate for people facing a housing crisis;
  • identify groups at greater risk of homelessness and encouraging early intervention and support; and
  • challenge structures and policies that compromise people’s ability to achieve housing stability.


CSH & Partners Promote More Reentry Housing

reentryLast year, CSH convened a Reentry Housing Workgroup to develop a reentry housing platform with recommendations for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Much progress has been made in improving access to housing for those leaving criminal justice facilities, but these advances are not nearly enough to address the full scope of the need faced by those exiting our jails and prisons.

Today, in an open letter to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Mayor, CSH and its partners released the reentry housing platform including statewide recommendations. These recommendations are intended to strengthen City and State efforts to address the housing needs of persons with criminal justice histories. As amplified by the platform, all persons with a criminal justice-involved history deserve fair access, consistent with public safety, to supportive, affordable and market-rate housing in order to reinforce their successful reentry and reduce the risk of their reincarceration.

Open Letter to Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio

Promoting Access to Stable, Permanent Housing for All New Yorkers Recommendations

The platform highlights some of the major progress made at the State and City level this year, but recognizes there are still many challenges that must be addressed.

  • There is not nearly enough supportive housing to meet the record need and the current City-State supportive housing initiative, the New York/New York III Agreement, is expiring this year. The Governor and Mayor should immediately finalize a new statewide supportive housing agreement that dedicates a portion of new units to people with criminal justice histories.
  • The City and State do not have a long-term plan for developing alternatives to unsafe “three-quarter houses” and it is unclear how residents who are eligible will access supportive housing. We recommend a three-step approach to 1) improve safety and program standards in existing three-quarter houses; 2) close houses that cannot meet basic safety standards; and 3) implement realistic policies to reduce demand on three-quarter houses over the long-term.
  • Housing discrimination in affordable and market-rate housing is still a major issue. Because affordable housing is scarce, people with criminal records are often the first to be shut out, even though housing them is a cost-effective way to accomplish the same public safety goals driving their exclusion. The State and City should adopt policy changes and include a requirement in regulatory agreements with all government-funded projects to prevent discrimination based on criminal justice history.

For more information, contact: Kristin Miller, New York Program Director, CSH, kristin.miller@csh.org or 212.986.2966 x231


Capital One Grant Helps Expand FUSE

Capital One’s philanthropy program provides grants to national and local organizations that support education, financial literacy and community development initiatives.

Within its focus on community development, Capital One strengthens low-income neighborhoods by supporting national and local efforts to enhance:

  • Workforce development
  • Affordable housing creation
  • Small business development

Capital One’s recent grant to CSH will promote scaled replication and the sustainability of the FUSE (Frequent Users/Utilizers Systems Engagement) model, helping to ensure that more people leaving our jails and prisons will access affordable housing and have a real chance to become a part of the communities in which they live.

Because of the generosity of Capital One and others, CSH is able to recreate FUSE in more communities across the country.

FUSE is a CSH signature accomplishment that helps communities identify and engage high-utilizers of public systems and place them into supportive housing in order to break the cycle of repeated use of costly crisis services, shelters, and the criminal justice system. In the FUSE model, supportive housing serves to smooth the transition from institution to community, promoting a transformation that serves those released from jails and prisons, and the general population, by improving lives and public safety.