May 30, 2023
Federal Trade Commission
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
RE: Tenant Screening Request for Information (Docket ID: FTC-2023-0024)
We are writing to express concerns regarding tenant screening practices within the housing sector, particularly as they relate to participants of the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program. It is essential to address the discrimination and unfair practices within the tenant screening process that significantly undermines HUD’s largest affordable housing program.
Overview of screening process for an HCV program participant
To be admitted into the HCV program1, applicants must submit an application to their local Public Housing Authority (PHA), thoroughly completed with all necessary personal information and documentation. The PHA reviews the application and determines eligibility to the program based on several factors such as income, family size, citizenship status, and a background search for federally mandated exclusions. It is at this point that the PHA may screen applicants for their own elective program criteria.2 These screening practices can be quite extensive, including criminal records screening more stringent that the statutory minimum and beyond regulatory authorization.3 PHAs elective screening and rescreening criteria of HCV families vary from PHA to PHA.