Georgia Justice Project (GJP) assists individuals actively trying to find housing but having difficulties because of a Georgia criminal history. Through its direct representation work, GJP helps individuals with record restriction (expungement), sealing, retroactive first offender, corrections, pardons, and other matters related to their criminal history. GJP also communicates with potential housing providers on clients’ behalf, collaborates with social workers on staff to address housing needs of clients, and represents clients in hearings on denials of federally-subsidized housing as a result of their criminal history.

Obtaining stable housing is crucial to an individual’s successful reentry and ability to find employment as well as Georgia’s overarching interest in public safety. Yet many housing providers refuse to rent to individuals with a criminal history, which in turn has resulted in a housing epidemic for directly-impacted people.

Check out the GJP Housing 1-Pager for Directly Impacted People for more information.

In addition to its direct representation of 500 criminal records clients per year, GJP actively engages in educational and policy advocacy efforts to reduce barriers to housing for justice-involved individuals.

  • The Reentry Housing Work Group: GJP convened a group of advocates, service providers, experts, and stakeholders in the public and private sectors to propose and develop strategies that improve housing opportunities for individuals who have been involved in the criminal justice system. The group submitted a comprehensive set of recommendations to Governor Deal’s Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform in 2017 and 2018, the majority of which were adopted in the Council’s 2017 and 2018 Reports.We intend to continue the Reentry Housing Work Group’s efforts by partnering with apartment and housing associations, leasing agencies, and property management groups to address best practices and model guidelines for the consideration of criminal records in housing decisions.

See the Reentry Housing Working Group reports here:

2017 Reentry Housing Work Group Recommendations to Criminal Justice Reform Council

2018 Reentry Housing Work Group Recommendations to Criminal Justice Reform Council

  • Education Campaign: GJP regularly engages with housing providers and directly impacted individuals to promote understanding of and compliance with state and federal guidance on the consideration of criminal records in housing decisions, including HUD’s November 2015 and April 2016 guidance, which laid out substantial limitations to the consideration of criminal records in public and private housing decisions.
  • Policy Advocacy: GJP is working to eliminate barriers to housing for people with criminal records through its policy advocacy efforts. In the lead-up to the 2019 legislative session, GJP is working to expand the restriction and sealing of misdemeanor convictions, as recommended by Governor Deal’s Council on Criminal Justice Reform in its 2018 Report. GJP is also collaborating with the other nonprofit organizations (ACLU-GA, ACLU National, GA Legal Services Program, and Atlanta Legal Aid) on advocacy efforts targeted at crime-free housing programs across the state. These programs often engage in overbroad, discriminatory, and illegal tenant screening policies such as requiring landlords to include lease language making it a violation of the lease to engage in any kind of criminal activity, regardless of whether there is an arrest or pending case. GJP and its partners are working to dismantle each individual crime-free housing program in Georgia.

GJP is committed to eliminating barriers to housing for people with criminal records and is actively seeking ways to partner with like-minded organizations and individuals to effect systemic change. If you are interested in learning more about our housing-related work or partnering with us on our upcoming educational and policy advocacy efforts, please contact Dominque Madison, Georgia Justice Project, dominque@gjp.org.

[1] See Lahny R. Silva, Clean Slate: Expanding Expungements and Pardons for Non-Violent Federal Offenders, 79 U. Cin. L. Rev. (2011), p. 16.

[2] See April 4, 2016 HUD Guidance, available at https://www.hud.gov/sites/documents/HUD_OGCGUIDAPPFHASTANDCR.PDF and November 2, 2015 HUD Guidance, available at https://www.hud.gov/sites/documents/PIH2015-19.PDF.

Look out for more updates about policy and events related to housing.