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Lukas Bagshaw reads and studies in the home he shares with his wife in Pittsburgh’s Central Northside neighborhood. (Photo by Maranie Rae Staab/PublicSource)

University of Pittsburgh law graduate Lukas Bagshaw has degrees in political science and economics from West Virginia University. Still, he couldn’t find a place to rent in Pittsburgh. Money was not the issue.Bagshaw and his wife found an apartment for rent in the Central Northside neighborhood. “We’d been looking for months and months, and this just seemed like the perfect opportunity.” But when they met the landlord, Bagshaw thought to himself, “Are they going to ask?”

Bagshaw has a criminal record — a drug conviction — from 11 years ago. Since then, each time he applied for an apartment and checked the box for criminal history, it was rented to someone else.

Across town at the Trade Institute of Pittsburgh, a masonry training program for ex-offenders, student Rashad Williams said he has encountered a similar barrier resulting from his 2010 drug conviction: insufficient credit.

“You don’t have a work history or credit score over 500,” said Williams, 32. “I’ve been incarcerated nine years; I have none of those qualifications.”

Rashad Williams, 32, at the Trade Institute of Pittsburgh. (Photo by Maranie Rae Staab/PublicSource)

As housing prices and rents rise in the Pittsburgh region, residents like Bagshaw and Williams face an additional hurdle — they’re often denied housing they can afford.


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