Surviving a Criminal Record

People with criminal records in America struggle systematically in many different ways, including, but not limited to voting, education, and even housing. What is arguably the worst part of this is that criminal records are very common in our country. “One in three people in the United States have a criminal record, meaning they are subjected to more than 44,000 associated legal sanctions.”  (Lake, J., 2021). Another issue is that many of these people are either innocent and/or ready to start life anew, but still they are faced with issues that make it hard for them to acquire even the basics that they need to survive. 

Let’s take housing disparities for example, people with criminal records have a much higher chance of homelessness and struggling to find good housing of their own than people without criminal records. “Yet many formerly incarcerated individuals, as well as individuals who were convicted but not incarcerated, encounter significant barriers to securing housing, including public and other federally-subsidized housing because of their criminal history.” (Kanovsky, H., 2016).” Many of them do not have families to live with either, meaning that they end up homeless. Even worse is that if they do have families, there are many cases where their families have to suffer with regards to housing as well because of their criminal record. “In a recent survey of formerly incarcerated people and their families:  79% of survey participants were either ineligible for or denied housing because of their own or a loved one’s conviction history;” (RHC, 2016).  This article also goes on to explain that there is indeed a direct correlation between being homeless and having a criminal record. 

In conclusion, the amount of people with criminal records who end up homeless in America is highly disproportionate, and oftentimes, it is of no fault of their own.  Next to criminal records, the main reason that Americans are denied housing is issues of employment and income, which is also the result of a criminal record for many. What this shows is that many of these people are stuck in a catch 22 situation that it can be nearly impossible to get out of because of systematic restrictions, which is arguably the result of unfair political practice.

Written By: Roshawn C. Evans


Kanovsky, H. (2016). Office of General Counsel Guidance on Application of Fair Housing Act Standards to the Use of Criminal Records by Providers of Housing and Real Estate-Related Transactions. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. 

Lake, J. (2021). Preventing and Removing Barriers to Housing Security for People with 

Criminal Convictions. Center for American Progress.

Reentry and Housing Coalition (RHC). (2016). Housing Access for People With Criminal Records: Statistics. RHC.