She mentions that the island’s housing authority carries out
google checks to deny housing to certain candidates.
Workers from the Elizabeth Fry Society complained about this practice years ago and believed it had stopped.
Associate Chief Executive Julie Kendall says online criminal record checks do nothing to help.
It is not uncommon for our clients to be treated unfairly and stigmatized due to their criminal recordshe says.
I often look at the chicken and the egg analogy when talking about criminalization and housing issues, because it’s hard to tell which comes first. Lack of affordable housing may very well be the social problem that drives a person to crime.
It also recalls that information published on the Internet may be incomplete or inaccurate.
Social issues that individuals face on a daily basis that can lead to criminal records are generally not included in Google searchesshe points out.
” It’s not fair that people can’t get on with their lives if they don’t have a place to rest at the end of the day. »
It’s not illegal for landlords to ask prospective tenants for a criminal record check in Nova Scotia, but denying housing on that basis should be considered discrimination, says Nova Scotia Legal Aid lawyer Tammy Wohler. -Scotland.
Simple criminal record checks or Google searches say nothing about the individual and how they would be as a tenant,she says.
She hopes the provincial government will take concrete steps to implement the auditor’s recommendations and update human rights legislation to recognize housing as a right.
In her report, Kim Adair says the CEO of the Cape Breton Housing Authority had already been advised to stop online research to check applicants’ criminal records.
She also regrets that in about half of the 150 files checked, which came from three housing authorities in the province, the candidates do not meet the eligibility criteria or their file is incomplete.
In 23 cases, applicants have incomes that exceed the authorized level.
Equity and consistency across the system must be addressedshe says.
The Cape Breton housing authority would not comment.
In an email, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing writes that provincial housing is available to anyone who qualifies based on income.
The ministry adds that internet searches to check criminal records
should never have happened and the practice ended when it came to our attention. We can inform you that it will not happen again in Cape Breton or elsewhere.
With information from Tom Ayers of CBC