Federal Judge Upholds Seattle’s Fair Chance Housing Law

A federal judge has struck down a challenge to Seattle’s Fair Chance Housing Ordinance from the Rental Housing Association of Washington (RHA) and other landlords represented by the Pacific Legal Foundation.

Seattle’s ordinance, born through community organizing and drafted by our office, bars landlords from asking about or adversely acting on a tenant’s or potential tenant’s criminal history. It is the first in the nation to address the difficulties of finding housing for people with a criminal record. Other cities have described Seattle’s Fair Chance Housing law as the gold standard in protecting against racial discrimination in housing.

We consider the ruling by U.S. District Court Judge John Coughenour a victory for fair housing practices. The systemic racism built into multiple systems results in the disproportionate incarceration rates of Black, Indigenous, and people of color. Fair Chance Housing’s protections are an important step in clearing barriers towards housing for all people, but especially for communities who are negatively impacted by the carceral system. Access to housing is essential to rehabilitation and reintegration and emphasizes the need to approach this issue with humanity.

The Seattle Office for Civil Rights will continue to uphold and enforce the Fair Chance Housing Ordinance. You can read more about Fair Chance Housing on our website.