by Matthew Vadum
Obama's threat to the nation's housing providers.
Welcome murderers, rapists, and thieves as your tenants or you will face huge monetary penalties, the Obama administration said in a new threat aimed at the nation's landlords.
Among convicted criminals, only drug dealers and drug manufacturers will be excluded from special protection as tenants under the administration's novel interpretation of housing law.
“The fact that you were arrested shouldn’t keep you from getting a job and it shouldn’t keep you from renting a home,” Obama's far-left Housing and Urban Development Secretary, Julian Castro, told the annual meeting of the National Low Income Housing Coalition this week.
This is part of the campaign by the most radical left-wing president in American history to de-stigmatize criminality itself. The Left views criminals -- especially minorities -- as victims of society, oppressed for mere nonconformism. Lawbreakers, they believe, should be treated the same as law-abiding citizens.
Obama's policies strike at the very heart of the criminal law system. Removing the stigma of a criminal record undermines the system and respect for the law and attacks the underpinnings of civilization itself.
Of course, a criminal record carries with it a degree of social stigma, as it should. Removing or watering down that socially beneficial stigma reduces disincentives to commit crimes and hinders the marginalization of the antisocial. Without stigma and social ostracism, society would eventually collapse.
But this administration treats criminals as a protected class. It wants felons' voting rights restored. It supports legislation "banning the box," that is, banning employment applications that ask if the applicant has a criminal record. It wants to empty the prisons and afford illegal aliens special protection by frustrating law enforcement in so-called sanctuary cities.
Refusing a prospective tenant is now fraught with danger in the Obama era. Since minorities are over-represented in America's criminal cohort, landlords are automatically deemed racist if they balk at housing criminals.
“The Fair Housing Act prohibits both intentional housing discrimination and housing practices that have an unjustified discriminatory effect because of race, national origin, or other protected characteristics,” said the enforcement directive issued by Castro.
“Because of widespread racial and ethnic disparities in the U.S. criminal justice system, criminal history-based restrictions on access to housing are likely disproportionately to burden African-Americans and Hispanics," the document states.
It may be true that, as the HUD guidance states, "African Americans and Hispanics are arrested, convicted and incarcerated at rates disproportionate to their share of the general population," but that's only because African-Americans and Hispanics commit crimes at rates out of proportion to their numbers in the United States.
Ignoring a black would-be tenant's criminal history amounts to what David Horowitz calls "black skin privilege." The African-American lawbreaker gets a free pass because of the color of his skin.
That's not what America is supposed to be about.
The legal memorandum continues, "While the Act does not prohibit housing providers from appropriately considering criminal history information when making housing decisions, arbitrary and overbroad criminal history-related bans are likely to lack a legally sufficient justification.”
The guidance laments that "When individuals are released from prisons and jails, their ability to access safe, secure and affordable housing is critical to their successful reentry to society."
It continues, "Yet many formerly incarcerated individuals, as well as individuals who were convicted but not incarcerated, encounter significant barriers to securing housing, including public and other federally-subsidized housing."
Cue the violins.
Perhaps before these sprung jailbirds committed their crimes, they should have considered the ramifications of their lawbreaking. But that's not the way things work in Barack Obama's world where criminals and terrorists are romantic heroes worthy of admiration and hard-working business people are worthy of sneering contempt.
Criminals have oodles of rights; landlords, not so much.
The guidance document comes a week after HUD issued a guidance called "FAQs: Excluding the Use of Arrest Records in Housing Decisions" cautioning public housing authorities and other landlords against rejecting applicants with arrest records for federally-subsidized housing. Landlords are required to conduct their own independent investigations of the allegations against rental applicants including but not limited to examining police reports and gathering witness statements.
It's quite a bureaucratic burden. Chances are many landlords won't bother to do it and undesirable tenants will get apartments they shouldn't get.
The Left doesn't care about fair play.
President Obama's pro-criminal views are difficult to distinguish from those of Angela Davis, the two-time Communist Party USA vice presidential candidate who is now a beloved figure in the academy. The Sixties radical demanded the release of all minority criminals because they were "political prisoners" of the racist United States, victims of a capitalist “prison-industrial complex.”
In a recent speech at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Davis railed against the mythical prison-industrial complex and "the deep structural racism embedded" in the American criminal justice system. "Racism continues to play a determining role in who gets stopped by the police and who doesn't," she said. "It determines who gets arrested and who goes free, who gets longer sentences and who gets shorter sentences."
There is no trustworthy evidence supporting this outlandish claim.
The effort to hurt landlords is a peculiarly Maoist part of President Obama's seven-year-old war on American norms and values. Landlords were labeled "enemies of the people" during the Communist dictator's reign and persecuted, reeducated, and executed in order to pave the way for Mao Zedong's fundamental transformation of Chinese society.
The Obama administration may not be as aggressive as the Mao regime but it has employed some of the late revolutionary's admirers. Former Obama White House spokeswoman Anita Dunn and former manufacturing czar Ron Bloom identified Mao as a personal hero and former green jobs czar Van Jones, an admitted communist, has been described as a Maoist.
Presumably it's a coincidence that Obama's HUD secretary shares the surname of the two Communist gangsters who run Cuba.
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