In July 2021, several consumer groups, led by the ACLU, wrote a letter to HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge offering “proposals for the Biden-Harris administration for addressing the role of technology in perpetuating discrimination in housing.” Included in the list is a proposal calling for an “[e]nd discriminatory background screening as a barrier to housing.” More specifically, “HUD should expand its 2016 guidance on the use of criminal records in tenant screening under the Fair Housing Act”; “HUD should extend its 2016 guidance to cover the use of eviction records, credit reports, and other unjustifiably discriminatory records to screen applicants for rental housing.”; “The FTC and CFPB should publish updated guidance for tenant screening companies on complying with the [FCRA]”; “The FTC should conduct a 6 (b) investigation into the tenant screening industry to study how companies obtain, match, and report on information such as criminal records, eviction and other civil court records, and credit and financial information.” The letter also encouraged HUD to review and act on technology in housing decisions.
Signing this letter were the American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Democracy & Technology, the Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the National Consumer Law Center ( on behalf of its low-income clients), the National Fair Housing Alliance, and the Upturn.
Eric J. Ellman is Senior Vice President for Public Policy and Legal Affairs at the Consumer Data Industry Association (CDIA) in Washington, DC. He also served for eight months as Interim President and CEO of the Association. More