An Old Misdemeanor Kept Maurice Alexander From Accessing Housing

How an year-old misdemeanor can be a barrier to housing.

News Story (District of Columbia)

Nadia Pflaum
Washington City Paper (DC)
November 13, 2015

Tags: Criminal Records, Housing: Homelessness

Organizations mentioned/involved: Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia, Washington Lawyers’ Committee (DC)


Seven years later, all for pointing his fingers, Alexander found himself homeless.

Elliot Mincberg, an attorney with the Washington Lawyers’ Committee, says even minor brushes with the law leave ripple effects lasting far beyond when a fine was paid or sentence served, making it hard to get a job, housing, and other necessities. Public and assisted housing providers are allowed to screen applicants for their criminal histories, but Mincberg says it’s over-enforced and frequently far beyond the legal guidelines laid out in the Fair Housing Act.

“It should have been over and done with,” he says of Alexander’s misdemeanor. “To say that that conviction should continue to have consequences on Mr. Alexander seven years later and literally render him homeless is a really bad thing.”