California county passes law stopping landlords from conducting criminal background checks on renters

California’s Almeda County has become the first in the country to pass a law against landlords conducting background checks on renters.

On Tuesday, Almeda County’s board of supervisors in the San Francisco Bay Area voted to adopt a Fair Chance housing ordinance.

The law prohibits landlords in private and public housing from using criminal records when considering prospective tenants.

In a tweet, the East Bay Housing Organisation said that the law was passed in a 4-0 vote with one board supervisor abstaining.

“Fair Chance Housing is a commonsense public policy solution,” Board of Supervisors president Keith Carson was quoted as saying in a statement to CBS News.

Alameda County Supervisor Dave Brown said: “I am grateful that my colleagues voted for the Wilma Chan Fair Chance Housing ordinance.

“Wilma Chan and I have been strong supporters of removing discrimination and providing the support formerly incarcerated residents need for successful reentry.”

The law is expected to be a significant move in curbing discriminatory practices in housing formerly incarcerated people.

Advocates said that Alameda is the first county in the US to broadly prohibit this practice, though a few cities have passed similar measures, and at least two counties have adopted partial restrictions, reported The Guardian.

The law will however require a second vote in January to be formally adopted.

It will apply to the unincorporated parts of the county, which include San Lorenzo, Castro Valley, Sunol, Fairview and Ashland; the cities of Oakland and Berkeley, which are part of Alameda county, which had previously passed municipal laws banning criminal background checks for housing.

Margaretta Wan-Ling Lin, executive director of Just Cities, an organisation that backed the ordinance said to the outlet: “There is this direct pipeline from prison on to our streets and into homelessness.”

“Our nation is going through a reckoning around our history of racism and mass incarceration policies, and an important part of repairing that harm is removing the stigma and structural discrimination against people with a criminal record.”

In May US Department of Housing and Urban Development figures showed that homelessness increased nearly 9 per cent in the San Francisco Bay Area over the last three years, reported Associated Press.