ALAMEDA CO., Calif. (KRON) – Alameda County is moving to become the first county in the country to ban landlords from conducting criminal background checks on potential tenants.
The Board of Supervisors voted in favor of the Fair Chance Ordinance this week. They believe this new ordinance would give those formerly incarcerated a chance at a better life.
“Everyone deserves a second chance. That’s the bottom line,” said Dave Brown, District 3 Supervisor.
Some disagree with the ordinance. “I have rented to ex-cons without background checks, and it hasn’t gone well,” said Amira Jackmon, landlord.
Four of the five supervisors voted in support of the ordinance. District 1 Supervisor David Haubert who represents Dublin and Livermore, abstained.
“There are still too many unanswered questions. For me I’m going to abstain but respect everyone’s choices here,” said Haubert.
Opponents of the policy said that the ordinance limits landlord control and increases liability. Supporters said that it provides legal resources for tenants who have been treated unfairly based on past convictions.
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Brown said he expects it to change lives. “In my personal opinion housing is a human right and I feel like we need to start treating it that way in our society, and that’s the only way we’re going to end homelessness,” added Brown.
The ordinance has to pass a second reading in January for it to become effective, but Supervisor Brown believes there’s already plenty of support for the ordinance. Two cities in Alameda County — Oakland and Berkeley — already prohibit criminal background checks for potential tenants.
According to the supervisor, the success they have experienced in those cities did impact the board.