Home>Articles>Alameda County Board of Supervisors Vote 4-0 To Ban Criminal Background Checks For Housing

City of Oakland (Photo: oaklandca.gov)

Alameda County Board of Supervisors Vote 4-0 To Ban Criminal Background Checks For Housing

Ban effective end of April 2023

By Evan Symon, December 24, 2022 8:55 am

The Alameda County Board of Supervisors voted 4-0 earlier this week to pass an ordinance that will ban landlords  from using criminal background checks on potential tenants, becoming the first such county-wide ban in the Country.

The ordinance, also known as the Fair Chance Housing Ordinance, will prohibit both private and public landlords from mandatory arrest and conviction disclosure requirements  In addition, all advertising that has language indicating that people with criminal backgrounds can not apply will be prohibited. However, those on the sex offender registry will not be included, with landlords being able to check for those people on the list.

The ordinance was created earlier this year due to a large number of unhoused people in Oakland and the rest of the County. Proponents pointed to a 2019 UC Berkeley study that found that 73% of those living in homeless encampments had been in jail at some point, with them arguing that such a restriction kept many from getting housing and helping keep up homeless numbers in both Oakland and the County as a whole.

“We know from studies and records, that about 73% of the unhoused residents in Oakland’s homeless encampments actually have criminal records,” said Xavier Johnson of the Just Cities Institute earlier this week. “So we can see that it’s been a barrier for them to access housing. We also know that a person who has a criminal record is about 10 times more likely to face homelessness on a whole.”

However, many apartment groups and tenant associations were strongly against the ordinance, denouncing it as being unsafe, that it would not help the unhoused situation, and that it pulls away from more pressing matters like building more affordable units.

“Before placing new regulations on housing providers, the Board of Supervisors must lift the COVID era eviction moratorium which invites tenants to not pay their rent even if they never suffered a COVID related hardship. Alameda County should follow other cities across the state and end it’s outdated and legally questionable eviction moratorium rather than waste time on policies that won’t truly solve our housing crisis.”

The criminal background check ban

Many landlords also noted that the ban will likely not work, as there are numerous other methods they can use to find out.

“Asking for references from previous landlords undoes all of this,” said Avery Coleman, an Oakland landlord, to the Globe on Friday. “Seriously. If they can’t put any on there, or they have a huge gap between years, and it’s not the military there, it’s easy to find out. Sometimes they put down halfway houses too. It’s not even an extra step. This ordinance doesn’t really do much, because there are so many other avenues we can take to find out. I don’t see why they are cheering for this at all.”

Both Oakland and Berkeley had passed similar measures in 2020, but with the ordinance passed on Tuesday, it will now cover the entire county.

“The funny thing is, since Oakland passed that ordinance in 2020, homelessness didn’t go down,” added Coleman. “It went up. Not asking about a criminal background did nothing for those homeless rates. And now the law that doesn’t work is being expanded. What are they thinking?”

The ordinance in Alameda County is to come into effect beginning at the end of April of next yea after COVID-19 eviction moratoriums end.

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Evan Symon
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5 thoughts on “Alameda County Board of Supervisors Vote 4-0 To Ban Criminal Background Checks For Housing

  1. As noted, there is no way this can be enforced. They can’t somehow prevent landlords in Alameda County from accessing the internet and finding out the criminal history of a particular applicant. On top of that, it’s not hard to tell when someone applying for rental is a strung-out druggie with no work history. So this won’t help the chronically homeless as no landlord would ever rent to them to begin with. The only purpose for this ordinance is to act as one big virtue signal from the county board of supervisors.

  2. The Alameda Board of Supervisor have not only been wrong on this vote, but also their handling of the gross violations by Tim Dupuis and the Alameda County ROV in the November 8, 2022 general election. My-self and other members of the Alameda County Election Integrity have gone before the Alameda County Board of Supervisors four times and testified to the violations of many election codes by TIm Dupuis as head of the Alameda County ROV in the November 8, 2022 General Election. We spent many hours observing the election process and were not given “sufficiently close access” as per California Election Code 15104. We called for the removal of Tim Dupuis from his position by the BOS . Neither the BOS nor the Executive Director of the BOS did anything. In fact they had Tim Dupuis come and speak to the BOS meeting on December 20, 2022 after Dupuis had certified the election . And Dupuis proclaimed under questioning that there were absolutely no problems at all with the election!! Dupuis’ credability is now shot to hell. Given what Dupuis has now admitted why would anyone believe a word of what he says??
    Thank you Calfornia Globe for your coverage by Bay Area ABC on Tim Dupuis now trying to uncertifiy an election for school board. Not only is Dupuis trying to uncertify an election, but according to reports, the Alameda County ROV did not program the voting machines correctly. Dupuis is still covering up how this affected ALL THE ELECTIONS which involved Rank Choice, including and especially the Oakland Mayoral Elections where Rank Choice allegedly CHANGED who the winner was proclaimed to be Rank choice voting needs to be eliminated. We must have a full investigation and the BOS, the Executive Director of the BOS and Dupuis. They all are to be held accountable. Those found who failed and lied about the readiness and accuracy of the system must be removed from their postions ASAP . Mindy Pechenuk, Republican Candidate for State Assembly 18 in the November 8, 2022 election

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