Everyone should have access to a safe, stable, and affordable home. Yet racism, both systemic and individual, continues to block Black, Latino/a/x, and other people of color from fair access to housing.
Tenant screening reports—which purport to evaluate a tenant’s likelihood to be a good or bad tenant—play an important role in perpetuating housing discrimination against communities of color. The tenant screening industry is largely unregulated, ubiquitous, and frequently undermines laws passed by state and local legislative bodies to ensure equal access.
Because tenant screening reports primarily rely on arrest and conviction history, they have broad consequences for the many Americans who have been involved with the criminal-legal system at some point in their lives. Housing is the key to successful reentry for justice-involved individuals. Policies like crime-free and nuisance property ordinances, which involve the use the tenant screening report, are proxies for racial discrimination and reinforce housing segregation.
Screened Out: How Tenant Screening Reports Deprive Tenants of Equal Access to Housing outlines the impact of tenant screening reports, summarizes the legal and regulatory landscape governing these reports, and makes recommendations for practitioners and policymakers to better protect individuals seeking housing.