Assemblymember Tina McKinnor (D – Inglewood) introduced legislation last week that would end a decades-old law used to promote housing segregation and force unnecessary evictions in minority communities across California. Assembly Bill 1418 would end the state’s ill-worded and failed “crime-free” housing policies that have increased housing insecurity for residents across California.
Currently, many cities mandate that landlords use criminal background checks when considering a new tenancy. In addition, many landlords, upon hearing of a past conviction or even charges that ended in acquittal, have evicted the entire family and not just the member of the household who was convicted or accused of a crime. This discrimination has largely been felt by Black and Latino families.
AB 1418 would specifically:
- Prohibit cities and counties from requiring landlords to use criminal background checks,
- Prevent alleged criminal behavior without a felony conviction related to the property to be used as a basis to evict a tenant
- Prohibit landlords from evicting an entire household when a household member is convicted of a crime
- Define nuisance behavior to include police contact
- Require landlords to include lease provisions that provide a basis for eviction beyond what is covered in the state’s existing eviction law.
“California’s housing crisis has been worsened by policies that further marginalize Black and Brown residents under the auspices of seeking ‘crime-free’ neighborhoods,” said Assemblymember McKinnor. “Every Californian wants to live in a safe neighborhood, yet for too many years, ‘crime-free’ housing policies have not reduced crime, increased housing availability or increased housing affordability. AB 1418 will end these harmful policies that have made it harder for Californians to find a safe place to call home and eliminate laws that have resulted in further housing segregation across the state.”
Community and policy advocates agree. “The history of racist policies that drive mass incarceration and have disproportionately criminalized people of color make those same people the targets for exclusion and eviction by landlords due to these so-called ‘crime-free’ housing programs,” said Gail Yen, California Policy Director with Root & Rebound. “This bill would help increase access to housing for, and prevent discrimination against, the people most impacted by mass incarceration.”
When asked how many people these policies affect every year in her district or in California as a whole, a spokesperson for the Assemblymember said, “Unfortunately, there is no way to track how many people were denied housing because they have been accused of a crime.” But clearly it’s proven to be enough of an issue for the Assemblymember to bring the bill forward.
AB 1418 will be considered by the State Assembly this Spring.