The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Civil Rights Clinic at New York University School of Law, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights under Law have called on cities to repeal their racially discriminatory crime-free housing ordinances to comply with federal civil rights law.
Hadiya Williams, Civil Rights Clinic Student Advocate stated: “America has a long and ugly history of segregating housing on the basis of race. In light of federal laws that make housing discrimination illegal, municipalities have found new and creative ways to exclude people of color. Exploiting the disproportionate arrests of Black and Latino persons, crime-free housing ordinances transform contact with the criminal legal system into race-based grounds to keep potential renters out and to evict current renters. These ordinances are not only unlawful—they don’t even achieve the perpetual goal of making communities safer.”
NAACP is a civil rights organization in the United States. The group was formed as an interracial endeavor to advance justice for African Americans, secure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights in order to eliminate race-based discrimination, and ensure the health and well-being of all persons.
According to Anthony Ashton, the NAACP’s Director of Affirmative Litigation: “Crime-free housing ordinances encourage and allow renters to be thrown out of their homes for allegations of minor infractions, even if those alleged infractions were not committed by the renters, but instead by a family member or even an acquaintance. Crime-free housing ordinances are a thinly veiled attempt to achieve or maintain racial segregation in housing.”
The NAACP, the Civil Rights Clinic, and Lawyers’ Committee are calling on local elected officials in these jurisdictions and across the country to repeal crime-free housing ordinances in their entirety.
Professor of Clinical Law at NYU Law School Deborah Archer said: “Crime-free housing ordinances treat renters differently than those with the financial means to own their homes. They stand for the proposition that individuals convicted of any crime, no matter how small, can never pay their debts to society and must continue to pay for the rest of their life. These ordinances are unlawful and fall far short of the ideals of a truly integrated society. They must be repealed.”