Excerpted from KIVI BOISE by Madeline White

The affordable housing crisis is difficult for everyone — but it’s especially hard on those with criminal histories, since finding a place to rent can sometimes feel next to impossible. Housing experts say Idahoans with criminal convictions are facing eviction crises at alarming rates.

But the Fair Chance Employment Act, Senate Bill 1318, could potentially change that.

Also called the “ban the box bill,” it’s legislation that would prohibit employers from asking about criminal records until the applicant is given an interview or conditional offer of employment.

At Monday’s public Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, 17 people testified in favor of S.B. 1318, and just one person against. That person was Fred Birnbaum of Idaho Freedom Foundation, who expressed the foundation’s concerns that the bill would bring potential crime into the workplace.

“Why do you commit crime in the first place?” said Sen. Patti Anne Lodge (R-Huston). “And then you come back and want individual businesses to make a choice to help you.”

Despite expressing concerns, Lodge ultimately voted to endorse the bill. The decision was unanimous among lawmakers on the committee.
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