Thanks to Kim Kardashian West, one of the first inmates released after federal sentencing reforms won't have to worry about rent for five years.
Matthew Charles says he was struggling to find an affordable place to live in Nashville since his January 3 release from prison. He tells News4 he was denied a duplux last week because of his lack of credit and criminal history.
“It was just disheartening due to the fact that it was another obstacle being placed in front of someone who has already been changed, rehabilitated, and released into society," said Charles.
On Sunday, Charles announced that Kardashian West, an advocate for criminal justice reform, will be helping him out. He said she's not doing it to get attention, but he just had to share it.
"I was like wow, this is amazing," said Charles.
Convicted of selling crack cocaine and illegally possessing a firearm in 1996, Charles was sentenced to 35 years in prison. He was granted early release in 2016 after serving more than two decades behind bars. Charles received national attention because he was ordered back to prison in 2018, two years after his sentence was ruled unfair.
Now a free man, Charles pushes for criminal justice reform. He says companies offering businesses incentives for hiring convicted felons should set a precedent for other industries.
“Those same incentives need to be offered to home owners or rental agencies to house convicted felons," said Charles. “I think two rights every American has is the right to work a job and a place to stay and if you deny them those right based on his felony conviction even though he’s already paid his debt to society then I say you’re doing that person an injustice.”
Charles also wants to see a bigger focus on mental health in prison.
“In the federal prison system, if you do not have your GED or high school diploma, it’s mandatory that you take GED classes for the attainment of that GED," said Charles "Well, why shouldn’t it be mandatory for a person who has a mental illness to be given immediate treatment upon entering into prison for that condition?”
Charles says he found a two-bedroom home in West Nashville with a big yard for his grandchildren to play in when they visit. He reached out to Kardashian West about the home.
“Kim ended up emailing me personally you know...congratulating me for finding a place, wishes me the best, and shared some other things with me and I thanked her for her assistance," said Charles. "She knew financially that I didn't have any means I had to find a place to live as well as furnish that place and by her stepping up to the plate or stepping up from her heart and helping me, it has allowed me to have tremendous stress and worry removed from me."
Charles has also received attention from President Trump who invited him to attended this year's State of the Union address.