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The Week Ahead: Examining the Legalities of Tenant Background Checks

On Friday, April 21, the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies will present the virtual event “Landlords, Potential Tenants, And Access To Criminal Records Information” at 11:15 a.m. Central.

Allowing landlords, employers, and other important gatekeepers to access information on criminal records can create serious barriers to housing, jobs, and other opportunities. In this talk, Lauren Russell, a Meyer Fellow and Harvard Ph.D. candidate in Public Policy, will introduce a new database that catalogues the evolution of the public and private entities which, starting in the 1970s, made it much easier for landlords and employers to access this information. She will also link the evolution of these systems to public discourse about crime and race, and explain how these systems may have contributed to racial inequality in both housing and employment, particularly before 2000, when there were few limits on the use of this information.

Russell is an applied micro-economist with primary fields in labor economics and public finance. Her research centers on U.S. racial inequality, with a focus on the criminal legal system and housing policy. Her work has been supported by the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, where she was a 2021-2022 Dissertation Scholar, and the AEA Summer Economics Fellowship hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago (2021). Russell is currently a Predoctoral Research Fellow at the Samual DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity at Duke University. She holds an M.A. in economics from Duke University (2016), and an A.B. in classics with a secondary in economics from Harvard University (2012).

A recent report from Redfin found that the median U.S. asking rent fell 0.4% year-over-year to $1,937 in March—the first annual decline since March 2020 and the lowest median asking rent in 13 months. By comparison, rents were up 17.5% one year earlier, in March 2022.

Click here for more information or to register for “Landlords, Potential Tenants, And Access To Criminal Records Information.”

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About Author: Eric C. Peck

Eric C. Peck has 20-plus years’ experience covering the mortgage industry, he most recently served as Editor-in-Chief for The Mortgage Press and National Mortgage Professional Magazine. Peck graduated from the New York Institute of Technology where he received his B.A. in Communication Arts/Media. After graduating, he began his professional career with Videography Magazine before landing in the mortgage space. Peck has edited three published books and has served as Copy Editor for Entrepreneur.com.

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