Applicants for public housing in Hagerstown now must go through state and national criminal background checks and, if they've ever been convicted of a crime, be fingerprinted.
Although local housing authorities are not required to fingerprint housing applicants, the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development allows the process.
The Hagerstown Housing Authority operates under HUD guidelines.
Hagerstown's housing authority adopted the fingerprinting procedure about eight months ago as another way to screen applicants.
"We do it because we're trying very hard to get rid of the bad element," said Ted Shankle, executive director of the Hagerstown Housing Authority.
If a criminal background check shows a housing applicant has been convicted of a crime, the housing authority sends a letter to the person stating they must be fingerprinted at the Hagerstown Police Department to further the application process, said George Siebert, director of security for the city housing authority.