New Housing Program Helps Those With Criminal Records Find Safe Apartments

It is no secret that landlords conduct background checks and will use evidence of a criminal conviction against you when deciding on your application. For this reason, those with criminal records often find themselves in unsafe neighborhoods in need of personal protection. It is also true that those with criminal records are usually not allowed to own or purchase weapons. In some cases, a weapons charge caused their criminal record in the first place. In these cases, it is often because the individual feels unsafe where they live.

Obviously, this creates a feedback loop of recidivism, and Chicago is starting to catch on to the vicious circles that those in unsafe neighborhoods have to endure. Chicago recently unveiled a housing program that allows those with criminal records to find safe apartments. This reduces the pressure to own weapons.

Entering the Vicious Cycle

One man who benefited from the new program described how his job at a gas station created conflict in his neighborhood. As a gas station attendant, he met with some unsavory characters. These incidents would spill over into his neighborhood which was nearby the gas station. His apartment was a sad basement-level two-bedroom in which he, his wife, and their four kids were stuffed like sardines. Worse still, he was receiving threats from characters who had created problems for him at the gas station. He decided to illegally purchase a gun to protect his family and found himself on the wrong side of the law. At one point, someone opened fire on his vehicle. It was then that the man decided he needed a weapon.

The effort to help those with recent convictions is a partnership between two organizations — Lawndale Christian Legal Center and the Chicago Low Income Housing Trust. The two organizations are fostering an initiative to convince landlords that renting to individuals with open cases or recent isn’t as big of a liability risk as they probably believe. It also fosters trust between those who may have had rational reasons for breaking the law because enforcement efforts aren’t meeting their individual needs. In some cases, people take the law into their own hands because law enforcement only responds to murders. That was the case for the gentleman whose story is described above.

Helping those with certain types of convictions, especially weapons convictions in high-crime areas, requires actually engaging with the offender, developing a rapport, and understanding why they committed the crime they committed. Not everyone is interested in this process, and the stakes for those accused of crimes are extremely high. But everyone needs hope in order to do the right thing. Without hope, it is too easy to fall back into self-destructive choices that may benefit you short term, but in the long run, they will destroy you. When enforcement efforts fail, people take the law into their own hands. That’s what you are seeing in Chicago’s high-crime areas—a failure of hope.

Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney Today

David Freidberg represents the interests of Chicago residents charged with serious crimes. Call today at (312) 560-7100, and we can begin preparing your defense immediately. 

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