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Lawmakers Debate Housing Assistance Need for Ex-Convicts

Brian Grimmett/KUER

Lawmakers in the Utah House Tuesday debated whether or not cities should be able to keep landlords from renting to people with criminal records. Some say such control could cut down on crime, but Democrats want to see more housing opportunities for those exiting prison.

The bill being considered was HB 30. It would renew some provisions of the Good Landlord Program that provides incentives to property owners who rent to tenants.  But there is one part of the law that Democratic Minority Leader Brian has a problem with.

“Cities have the ability to put in place as a requirement to participate in the Good Landlord Program penalties on landlords who lease or rent to individuals who have been convicted of certain crimes within the last four years,” said King.

King is working with the Utah League of Cities and Towns, the city of Ogden and the state Department of Corrections, among other organizations to launch a pilot program that explores offering housing assistance to those recently released from prison.  Even the bill’s sponsor, Weber County Republican Gage Froerer, acknowledged that the issue needs to be examined.

“We can make sure that in the future that this segment of society is taken care of in housing because that’s really the path that these folks need to make sure that we don’t give them additional room in the prisons, but room where they can call home,” said Froerer.

The bill passed without opposition.  Representative King supported it, but he hopes the pilot program he’s helping to launch will result in legislation next year that strikes the felony provision from the Good Landlord Program.

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