Finding housing as a felon can seem almost impossible at times. It can be enough to drive some people to begin thinking about following the same behaviors that led to their incarceration in the first place.
Yes, it can certainly be frustrating trying to find housing for ex-felons, especially if you are one, but there are a number of programs that provide housing assistance for felons that can make a world of difference. Before you begin thinking about committing another felony because you’re homeless or have been beating your head against the wall just trying to get any type of apartment or housing facility consider you with your previous record, understand the laws and how they can provide assistance for you during this time of your life.
Stipulations with regard to Public Housing Agencies.
A Public Housing Agency, or PHA, is basically any type of housing company, organization, or landlord who receives federal money for providing housing to certain low income or at risk individuals. However, certain felonies or other crimes will preclude you from getting this type of assistance or being able to move into one of these particular housing situations.
If you were convicted of manufacturing methamphetamines on the premises of public housing, you may be rejected by these Public Housing Agencies. Anyone who is considered a sex offender and needs to register as a sex offender for life can also be denied assistance or housing.
Anyone who was evicted from public housing for drug-related crimes will not be able to find public housing assistance for three years, either for him or his family. You may also have trouble finding housing in a public housing situation if somebody in your family (who will be living there) was convicted of a crime, has been engaged in drug-related activity, or has any violent criminal history that could potentially put other residents at risk.
Understand your rights when it comes to housing for convicted felons by reading the Joint Statement on Reasonable Accommodations under the Fair Housing Act. There are certain types of discrimination that are not permitted to be carried about against other individuals, including disabled and, in some situations, those who have been convicted of some type of felony crime in the past.
You can learn a great deal about fair housing laws through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development website on Fair Housing Laws and Presidential Executive Orders. Not all of these laws and acts that have been passed by the United States government will apply to felony housing situations, but there are certain stipulations that have been included or amended within these laws through the years that help to provide legal protections for those individuals who are released from custody and seeking to rebuild their lives.
The challenges many felons face when searching for housing.
There are actually numerous organizations and programs that provide housing assistance for felons, including reintegration programs that are available through many states. Some of the most significant challenges a person who has been convicted of a felony will face with regard to finding housing is either discrimination on the part of the landlord or apartment management company or finding reliable employment with which to help pay the rent for their future housing.
There is no federal law that requires any private apartment or home owner from having to provide housing to somebody they don’t want to. A private company or individual is not legally required to rent to somebody who has been convicted of a felony in the past.
Yet there are numerous public housing agencies all across the country that received federal assistance to help compensate for lower rents and other provisions in which they provide housing opportunities for low income or high risk families and individuals.
Most states will provide halfway houses or other housing opportunities for recently released ex-felons, which can provide them shelter for a period of time, whether it is a matter of months or a couple of years. In the meantime, finding employment is one of the most important assets when looking for housing in the future.
The United States Department of Labor provides a number of incentives, including the Work Opportunity Tax Credit program (WOTC) that offers incentives to employers to hire from populations that had may have a difficult time finding work, including ex felons. These tax incentives can be up to $2,400 per employee hired from one of these higher risk populations.
The U.S. Department of Labor also provides an Employment Information Handbook for Ex-Offenders with numerous helpful tips and information on housing, receiving food stamps, child support, domestic violence, vocational rehabilitation, and more.
For any felon who has recently been released and is looking for housing assistance, take advantage of the resources and programs that have been developed and put in place with the express intention of providing some type of assistance to help these individuals become productive members of society once again.
If you are looking for housing assistance as a felon, or somebody you know is in that situation, rest assured there is assistance available. Don’t abandon hope.