“You Are Not the Tenant I am Looking For”
An Analysis of Landlords’ Responses to Rental Inquiries from Wrongfully Convicted Individuals
Keywords:Wrongful Convictions, Exonerees, Housing, Discrimination, Reintegration, Post-release Support
Research suggests that formerly incarcerated individuals, and individuals belonging to racial minority groups, experience stigma and housing discrimination. The current study explored landlords’ attitudes and differential communications toward formerly incarcerated individuals – particularly wrongfully convicted individuals – of varying races. Using data from an experimental audit study, we examined the content of landlords’ email responses to rental inquiries from fictitious convicted and wrongfully convicted individuals, and members of the general public (i.e., control), who were either Black, Indigenous, or White. A content analysis revealed three main themes: 1) responding with courtesy; 2) probing for additional information; and 3) willingness to set up a viewing. Logistic regressions revealed that landlords were more likely to justify the rental’s unavailability, inquire about the renter’s financial stability and references, and to say they would follow up later when corresponding with convicted and wrongfully convicted individuals compared to control. Landlords were also more likely to ask White renters about their criminal history compared to Black and Indigenous renters. Surprisingly, individuals belonging to racial minority groups were not disadvantaged further in this data. The findings are discussed in the context of post-incarceration support.
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Copyright (c) 2022 Leah Hamovitch, Lesley Zannella, Emma Rempel, Heidi Graf, Kimberley A. Clow
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.