Locked out of Place: How Felony Conviction History Shapes Residential Opportunity and Racial Segregation

Awarded Scholars:
Brielle Bryan, Rice University
Project Date:
Mar 2021
Award Amount:

One in twelve Americans (and nearly 1/4 of black adults) have been convicted of a felony. Due to felony conviction, individuals can be denied housing, employment, and the right to vote for years after they complete their sentences. Researchers have extensively examined the consequences of incarceration for subsequent life chances, but 2/3 of felons have never been imprisoned. The fate of this much larger class of individuals has been largely overlooked. Given that criminal background checks have become a routine part of rental applicant screening and the importance of where one lives for quality of life and access to opportunity, Bryan will conduct an experimental study to uncover how felony conviction history shapes renters’ available choice set in the housing market. This study will mark the first attempt to conduct a nationwide analysis of how much discrimination the 19 million Americans with felony records face and, crucially, what types of neighborhoods they are channeled into as a result.


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