A recent article published by NBC News highlights Bellwether Housing resident Lisa Smith. The article covers Seattle's Fair Chance Housing Ordinance. Washington State is considering legislation modeled after this Seattle law.
The Ordinance aims to improve housing equity by eliminating criminal background checks when landlords are screening tenants. Criminal background checks disproportionately impact people of color, who are disproportionately incarcerated in a discriminatory criminal justice system.
Making it easier for people with criminal records to access housing is "crucial to helping formerly incarcerated individuals reintegrate in society and decreases the likelihood of them re-offending."
Bellwether Housing resident Lisa Smith was interviewed for the article. Her family found it "nearly impossible" to find housing until Seattle's Fair Chance Ordinance passed. "Since we've had stable housing, we're actually able to maintain a goal" Lisa said to NBC.
Bellwether changed its criminal record screening criteria in 2017, just before the ordinance became law. By eliminating this criteria, Bellwether sought to remove barriers to accessing affordable housing and increase housing equity for low-income residents.