Advertisement

‘Gimme Shelter’: How ‘crime-free housing’ rules prevented a family from renting

Terrance Stewart stands for a portrait outside the apartment where he has lived with his family in Colton, Calif.
Terrance Stewart stands for a portrait outside the apartment where he lives with his family in Colton, Calif.
(Dania Maxwell/Los Angeles Times)

Across the country over the last three decades, cities and police departments have approved policies that empower landlords to evict or exclude tenants who have had prior criminal convictions or new brushes with law enforcement. The programs are especially widespread in California, where at least 147 cities and counties have approved what are known as “crime-free housing” rules, according to a new Times investigation. The investigation found that these programs have disproportionately affected Black and Latino tenants, making it harder for them to rent apartments and leaving them at greater risk of eviction.

On this episode of “Gimme Shelter: The California Housing Crisis Podcast,” we discuss the effects of crime-free housing policies in California and note that adoption of the programs has often coincided with the migration of Black and Latino residents from central cities to suburban communities. Our guest is Terrance Stewart, who was unable to find housing with his wife and two children in Riverside due to background checks, conducted under crime-free housing rules, that flagged his cocaine-dealing conviction. Stewart’s family still struggled to find a place to live after he graduated with a master’s degree from UC Riverside and his conviction was almost a decade old.

Advertisement

Gimme Shelter,”a biweekly podcast that looks at why it’s so expensive to live in California and what the state can do about it, features Liam Dillon, who covers housing affordability issues for the Los Angeles Times, and Matt Levin, data and housing reporter for CalMatters.

You can subscribe to “Gimme Shelter” on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Soundcloud and Overcast.


Advertisement
Advertisement