Via St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "Gwen Smith wrote a letter (Nov. 18) about various Ban the Box efforts around the country regarding not having one's felony record automatically preclude them from getting a job. As a felon myself, I certainly applaud this change of thinking. But there is an equally, if not more pressing roadblock for felons trying to re-enter their communities: housing.
Over the past three weeks, I have tried to apply to 34 apartment complexes in the North County area. Some are out of my price range, some are in questionable neighborhoods. But of the dozen or so that do fit those first two criteria, every single one has outright rejected my attempts to apply because of the felony. For those of us who don't have homes to go back to, finding housing is a crapshoot of either living in an unsafe area or finding suitable arrangements in newspaper ads, which opens a whole other box of uncertainties.
The halfway house and probation offices are constantly prodding you to find a place to live, apparently oblivious to the fact that the scarlet F's we wear limit our options to unsafe or zero. It is an extremely frustrating and frankly hopeless trial that those of us with limited financial means must somehow overcome. Ban the Box movements at employers are great, but it's only half the battle."