Ann Cammett


Access to affordable housing is one of the most critical issues currently facing low-income families. In many urban areas, rising costs, dwindling economic opportunity, and gentrification have foreclosed access to previously available rental stock and contributed to a crisis in housing. For African Americans lingering economic disparities arising from generations of forced racial segregation and the disproportional impact of mass incarceration have magnified these problems. In this Article I explore legal barriers to publicly subsidized housing, a “collateral consequence” of criminal convictions that increasingly serves as a powerful form of housing discrimination. Evictions, denial of admission, and permanent exclusion of family members from public housing—based on almost any type of criminal system exposure—have served to further entrench poverty, contribute to homelessness, and trigger unwarranted family disruption. These widespread barriers to public housing are a detriment to many low-income families, but especially African Americans, owing to their historical experience of both housing discrimination and hypercriminalization.