Each year the City of Detroit provides hundreds of thousands of dollars in development incentives in the form of tax credits, abatements, and/or grants to businesses and housing developers. Many of these companies and housing providers maintain blanket policies and practices that exclude individuals with criminal records from obtaining housing and employment.
In April 2016 the ACLU of Michigan, working with a coalition of advocacy groups and community leaders, proposed that the city adopt a comprehensive ordinance to limit how and when private employers and housing providers receiving aid or incentives from the city can consider an individual’s criminal record. The ordinance will ultimately prohibit these entities automatically denying people employment or housing based on a past conviction. The proposed ordinance follows EEOC guidelines and best practices for considering a criminal record in making hiring or tenancy determinations, including prohibiting a criminal record check until after a conditional offer, conducting an individualized assessment, and offering the opportunity to explain or provide evidence of rehabilitation. We are working collaboratively with the Detroit City Council to finalize specific language for the ordinance before it is formally introduced for a vote.
(ACLU Attorneys Michael J. Steinberg, Miriam Aukerman, Mark Fancher and Brooke Tucker, and Legal Fellow Kimberly Buddin.)