People with a history of convictions face a toxic combination of factors when seeking and securing housing. Their income challenges make it hard or impossible for most to afford market-rate housing in high-cost markets like New York City, and the supply of affordable housing is sharply limited. Discrimination based on record as well as on race further limits the ability of people and their families to access an already limited supply of affordable housing.
These discriminatory practices contribute to the growth of the “prison-to-shelter” pipeline — the growing and all-too-common phenomenon of formerly incarcerated people living in homeless shelters or on the street because they cannot secure housing. Very rarely can they find housing that they can afford and still have room for living expenses.
The Fortune Society developed its own nationally recognized housing program because it saw the desperate need of its homeless clients and the dearth of available options available to them. As Fortune developed its own housing, it saw how deeply embedded discrimination and other collateral consequences of criminal conviction keep justice-impacted individuals from accessing even the limited supply of affordable and supportive housing.
This episode’s discussion focuses on understanding the impact of the problem of this kind of housing discrimination, the work that The Fortune Society and other organizations have undertaken to address it, and the optimal solutions moving forward. Our guests include Tabber B. Benedict, housing advocate at The Fortune Society; Michael Chin, civil rights enforcement manager for the Seattle Office for Civil Rights; and Ian Wilder, executive director of Long Island Housing Services.