Matthew Charles was released from prison a few months ago and since then has been trying to start a new life. But that has proven much harder than he hoped.
When he first applied to rent an apartment in Nashville, Tennessee, Charles was rejected. When Kim Kardashian offered to pay his rent in advance, he was rejected again.
Charles served 21 years for drug-related offenses and, in January, became one of the first prisoners released as a result of the First Step Act, according to the White House.
The new law “reformed sentencing laws that have wrongly and disproportionately harmed the African-American community,” President Donald Trump said during his State of the Union address, where Charles was a guest.
In February, Charles told CNN’s Poppy Harlow the “welcome home” from Trump and hearing “that society was on board with giving me a second chance – was just amazing.”
But not everyone seems to be on board with letting Charles start over.
In early March, when Charles found out his rental application had been rejected, he spoke out about the stigma associated with being a felon.
“The violence on my wrap sheet occurred back in 1988, when I was completely young, dumb, and wrong. … It’s 31 years ago,” he said on Facebook. “This is about obstacles to successful re-entry and reintegration back into society for ex-felons, that I and many released felons face on regular basis that need addressing and remedied.”
“If having a place to live and a job to work are essential for every citizen,” he said. “Why would that not be the essential case for every citizens, regardless of being a past convicted felon?”
When Charles heard about Kardashian’s offer, he posted the news to social media.
“Kim did not do this for attention or publicity,” he said. “I had to share it, because it’s (too) good not to, and my heart is about to burst with happiness, that I wish you to rejoice in this news with me.”
But according to Kardashian’s later tweet, even with that offer on the table, Charles’ application was rejected again because “of his criminal record.”
“If there are any landlords w a 2 bedroom in Nashville willing to give Mr. Charles a 2nd chance, contact email@example.com,” she wrote on Twitter. “Serious inquiries only, thank you.”