can my criminal record affect my ability to get tribal housing?

It depends. Indian tribes and tribally designated housing entities are granted access to criminal conviction records of adult tribal housing applicants and tenants, upon request. However, release of information about juvenile convictions is only permitted if authorized under state, tribal, and local law.[3393]

Tribes can only use criminal records to screen or evict applicants, or enforce leases, and the information cannot be released to anyone who is not an officer, employee, or authorized representative of the tribe or owner of the housing.[3394]

Once you are a resident, owners and managers of housing units can also evict a resident for any current criminal activity from the resident, a member of the household, or a guest of the resident.[3395]

Each tribe establishes its own policies on criminal records. For example, the Yurok Indian Housing Authority has a policy of denying housing for a period of at least 5 years from the date of any felony conviction and for lifetime registered sex offenders.[3396] The Karuk Tribe Housing Authority, by contrast, requires a 5 year waiting period from the date of a conviction, or 18 months from the date of release, for any drug-related crime or any form of assault/battery crime. However, if the applicant completes a drug rehabilitation program, the waiting period is reduced to 1 year. For misdemeanors, more than 1 conviction results in a 2-year waiting period, and more than 2 convictions results in a 5-year waiting period.[3397]

These are just two examples from some of the larger tribes in California. Because some tribes have more restrictive policies than others, you should contact your Tribe’s housing authority to learn about their specific restrictions. Additionally, some tribes are exploring the possibility of opening reentry facilities for those returning from incarceration. Your Tribe’s housing authority can provide information on any reentry housing programs.

  1. 3393

    25 U.S.C. § 4138..

  2. 3394

    25 U.S.C. § 4138.

  3. 3395

    25 U.S.C.A. § 4137.

  4. 3396

    Background Policy, Yurok Indian Housing Authority,

  5. 3397

    Criminal Record, Tenant Selection Criteria, Chapter 7, Housing Policies, Karuk Tribe Housing Authority,