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Clean Slate Will Help Prevent Homelessness in Pennsylvania

Employment

Clean Slate Will Help Prevent Homelessness in Pennsylvania

Date Posted: 
05/22/2018

In Pennsylvania, homelessness is getting worse

  • On any given day, 15,000 Pennsylvanians experience homelessness.
  • Rates of homelessness in Pennsylvania have increased, especially among veterans, families, and young people.
  • The number of young Pennsylvanians who do not have shelter has increased by a third.

Criminal records contribute to homelessness

  • Approximately 4 out of 5 landlords conduct criminal record background checks on prospective tenants, and even a minor criminal record can serve as a barrier to both public and private housing. 
  • Nearly 1 in 3 people released from incarceration expect to go to a homeless shelter due to a lack of housing options.
  • People with records struggle to secure adequate employment which makes being able to afford housing a significant challenge.

 Clean Slate can prevent homelessness

  • Clean Slate would use technology to automatically seal from public view arrest records after charges are dropped, as well as certain minor conviction records after 10 years.
  • Sealed records would no longer be available to the public, meaning that landlords and property managers would not be able to view and hold these records against people seeking housing.
  • Moreover, employers would no longer be able to view these records, allowing individuals and families to secure income needed to afford necessities like housing.
  • Pennsylvania’s Clean Slate legislation is the first of its kind in the nation and enjoys support from both Republicans and Democrats. Two different versions of the bill have passed the PA House and Senate. The legislature should ACT NOW to pass a final Clean Slate bill and send it to the Governor’s desk. 

Omar’s Story

Omar is a 21-year-old young man with a bright future. He graduated from high school and worked with a job-training program to gain employment. Omar applied to live at a private apartment complex, but the complex ran a background check that revealed a single arrest that did not result in a conviction. Omar was told that he could not live there unless he could get his record expunged.

Omar faced homelessness, couch surfing with friends while he awaited confirmation of his expungement to show to the apartment complex.

Clean Slate would automatically seal arrest records shortly after charges are dropped so that people like Omar do not have to experience homelessness while awaiting a lengthy process to get their record cleared.

Alexa’s Story

Alexa, a twenty-year-old high school graduate, became homeless when she could not find a job that would enable her to afford housing. With nowhere else to go, she ended up at a youth homeless shelter. When Alexa visited a legal clinic at the shelter, she learned that a minor arrest record for which she was not convicted was still showing up. She had been denied so many jobs, and never understood why.

Ultimately, after about six months, Alexa was able to get the arrest record expunged, find employment, and leave the shelter. However, she unnecessarily experienced over a year of homelessness because of this minor arrest record.

Clean Slate would ensure that people like Alexa do not unknowingly lose out on critical opportunities because their minor records are available to the public.