Locked Out: Housing Ban for the Formerly Incarcerated

Having a criminal record comes with a price even after one has served his or her time. Criminal records have long-lasting effects on individuals even after their probation or parole term has expired. Being labeled a “criminal” with a criminal conviction on one’s record exempts people for many opportunities including employment, benefits, and housing access. 

While having a criminal record can exempt you from opportunities such as housing, housing authorities, landlords, and property managers rarely look into the surrounding circumstances of a conviction. They rarely consider if racial or socio-economic disparities had anything to do with the initial arrest and ultimate conviction. Some may think its outrageous to think that people are arrested or convicted based on race and socio-economic status alone; however, statistics show that, black people are five times more likely to get arrested than white people, and those who are poor are three times more likely to be arrested than those that are not. Additionally, there have been studies that have shown that in some parts of the country, white people are twenty-five percent more likely to have their charges dropped than their black counterparts. So, yes, it’s sad to say, “In America, one can be convictict on the basis of race, ethnicity and economic status.” 

In 2015, The Texas Criminal Justice Coalition found that “Men with histories of incarceration were found to be twice as likely to experience housing instability and four times more likely to experience homelessness than those without a criminal record, and those most recently incarcerated were 69% more likely to have insecure housing than those without histories of incarceration.” This is just one example of how a criminal record bars and impacts those that are formerly incarcerated. 

The data available from the “Pew Research Center”, shows “Black Americans make up 33% of the prison population and only 13% of the overall U.S. population, while Hispanic Americans make up 23% of the prison population and make up 15% of the overall U.S. population. These statistics and those mentioned above show the intersections of race and the impacts of being denied to access to opportunities such as housing. If blanket, discriminatory bans are allowed to continued, we will see the deterioration of families, neighborhoods, and ballooned criminal injustice involvement due to recidivism.

Written by: Roshawn C. Evans