Getting housing when you are a convicted felon is not easy. Credit checks, deposits and references might be difficult. However, you would think all of that goes away if Kim Kardashian is paying your rent for five years. Not so for Matthew Charles, who served 20 of his 35-year sentence for a non-violent drug offense before being released under the First Step Act.
“Matthew Charles’s lease application was rejected again bc of his criminal record (even w me paying his rent in advance),” Kardashian wrote on Twitter on Friday. “If there are any landlords w a 2 bedroom in Nashville willing to give Mr Charles a 2nd chance, contact firstname.lastname@example.org Serious inquiries only, thank you.”
Sadly, landlords are allowed to discriminate against convicted felons. Combining race and an arrest record is often a double whammy, according to NPR.
“Intentional discrimination may be proven based on evidence that, when responding to inquiries from prospective applicants, a property manager told a African-American individual that her criminal record would disqualify her from renting an apartment, but did not similarly discourage a White individual with a comparable criminal record from applying,” NPR wrote.
Charles had been denied renting a place due to his “criminal history and his lack of credit after being incarcerated for more than 20 years,” according to USA Today. “I’m pretty distraught about it because it’s not allowing me to have a full second chance,” Charles said.
However, he thought all of that changed when he was contacted by Kardashian’s team this month. The reality star said she would pay his rent for five years.
“I just received the most wonderful news tonight that I just had to share with everyone. Kim Kardashian-West, through Tracy, said they heard about my situation. Was moved and has decided to help me,” Charles wrote in an emotional Facebook post last week. “And to me in an unbelievable way. Kim did not do this for attention or publicity, but I had to share it, because it’s to good not to, and my heart is about to burst with happiness, that I wish you to rejoice in this news with me. And many of your responses about the outcome of my dilemma prophesied it. ”
If five years of guaranteed rent does not qualify you as a trusted tenant, imagine what so many others experience across the country.