One of the struggles felons face after their release from prison is housing. Some are lucky to have friends and family waiting for them. Others might have nowhere to turn to. As a result, they may end up on the streets. In many cases, they resort to living off crime. This could land them back in prison, with time.
It’s unfortunate that the government doesn’t do much in this regard. Felons have a hard time fitting back into society. Sadly, a lot of landlords and property owners are not willing to accommodate them. In the rare cases that they do, the other tenants may express discomfort.
There’s no need to worry. There are a couple of emergency housing options for felons. If stranded, they can go for any of these. Most of these housing systems are often accepting of felons. Some also provide food and employment opportunities for them.
List of Emergency Housing Options for Felons
Here are a few choices for felons who need emergency accommodation:
A halfway house is the first place a felon goes to immediately after prison. It’s also called a residential re-entry center (RRC). The purpose is to help ex-convicts transition smoothly into the community. During their stay, residents must follow certain rules. They must be on their best behavior and fulfill their duties faithfully. Major violations may cause a resident to be sent back to prison.
Some prisoners are required to transfer to a halfway house after prison. For some, they just choose to stay there. This could be due to the lack of other housing options. While the halfway house is not the best choice for housing, it has a few advantages.
Here are some of these:
- Constant and trustworthy security: The halfway house accommodates prisoners from all security levels. Nonetheless, one doesn’t have to worry about safety. Only those deserving of it are chosen to stay. Plus, the residents are monitored strictly.
- Access to food and shelter: Just like in prison, food and shelter is provided. While most residents wouldn’t rave about the services, it’s better than nothing.
A halfway house might not be the best pick. Here are the cons:
- Strict monitoring: There’s not much difference from prison as far as freedom is concerned. Every movement will be monitored. For instance, when a resident applies for a job. To be permitted, they must provide proof from the employer.
- Lack of privacy. Halfway houses usually have bunks in a large space. Daily, a number of prisoners are received, and others leave.
- Little to no help regarding employment, healthcare, and other needs. While a lot of halfway houses promise these things, felons are basically on their own. They have to rely on themselves for the most part. This applies to simple things like transportation as well.
It’s a good idea to look into local religious organizations. They usually cater to disadvantaged individuals by providing basic needs.
One popular example of an all-providing organization is Catholic Charities USA. This organization has been aiding the fight against poverty in America for over 100 years. They provide food, housing, healthcare, and employment to individuals in every state. Moreover, they may provide financial aid to eligible persons. Felons can find branches in their towns by checking the Catholic Charities official website.
This is a great choice because:
- There’s more freedom and flexibility.
- They are a charity organization, so, they usually provide what they promise.
- There’s more in-house privacy, and much less monitoring as compared to a halfway house.
HUD Rental Assistance Programs
A felon needs useful and direct information on where to get affordable housing. The Federal department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) can help with that. They offer resources to discover affordable housing options for felons. Although the HUD doesn’t provide grants, they’ll lead to low- income alternatives.
Some of these are:
1 Homeless housing assistance. There are easily accessible local shelters for felons. They can visit https://www.hudexchange.info/housing-and-homeless-assistance/homeless-help/ for more information. The site has filters according to state and location.
2 Homeless counseling services. For a homeless felon who needs guidance and counseling, HUD is a way to go. By calling (800) 569-4287, one can speak to a professional counselor on issues related to housing.
3 Public housing: Local Public Housing Authorities (PHA) provide subsidies on apartments. These apartments are usually called “scattered apartments.” The tenants may pay a maximum of $50 or a percentage (10% or 30%) of their gross salary to the PHA. So, having a source of income would increase the chances of being considered. Violent and sex offenders do not qualify. Anyone with drug-related crime history would also not be eligible.
With Securing 8 housing, the Federal department offers vouchers for those in the low-income group, including felons. This might not be the best option to go for, and there are multiple reasons why. Firstly, there are a few conditions. Sex offenders and felons with violent crime histories do not qualify. They also must not have any history of selling meth on federal housing. Secondly, it takes a lot of time. The wait-lists are often very long. It could take 2-4 years in competitive regions. So, it’s not exactly emergency housing assistance.
In every state, there are non-profit organizations that provide housing. Their main aim is to help families and prevent homelessness. Basically, they offer shelter to disadvantaged individuals. For instance, people living with HIV, people with special needs and ex-convicts. Usually, they are funded by the state. In some cases, they may be federal government-funded.
Search Engines To Find Housing for Felons
There are some other platforms to search for emergency housing. Interestingly, some of these have filters that can show only “felon-friendly” apartments. Here are a few:
Craigslist has a wide range of apartments to choose from. They have a lot of properties belonging to individual landlords. This increases the chances of acceptance, in most cases.
Zillow’s Community Pillar Program
The main purpose of this program is to make it easier for offenders to get housing. Landlords reduce their high standards and encourage disadvantaged persons to apply.
Get Help with Paying Rent as a Felon
After obtaining a place to stay, the next thing is paying rent. Ideally, a felon should have a job before applying to housing authorities and landlords. In fact, this could help their case. Landlords need assurance that rent will be paid duly. For Public housing, the felon needs a source of income.
Still, there are certain ways a felon can get help with rent. Some organizations offer subsidies. Others may give grants. The first option should be a state-funded assistance program. Every state provides emergency housing for those who are eligible.
In the same way, they could help with rent and other housing costs. They usually place a limit on how much money they’d release within a year. Felons should get in touch with the programs in their state and make inquiries.
Some other organizations can help with rent. These may be helplines or religious organizations. Here is a number of other ways an ex-convict can get help with paying their rent:
Salvation Army Emergency Assistance and Homeless Prevention
The Salvation Army can help with rent and bills for people in need. They offer emergency loans as well. The Salvation Army hotline is 773 205 3520.
They help to find short-term financial housing help for those in need. They have aided over 4 million callers in the country with housing issues. Their helpline is 211. They have experts who can promptly connect the caller to non-profits and other organizations which can offer help.
Felons can walk into churches in their area and ask for help. This might not be a comfortable choice for some. But, it’s worth a shot. If it helps, go with a friend or family member who preferably attends the church.
Getting out of prison is the dream of many convicts. Sadly, it’s quite difficult for most felons to fully adjust to society. One issue they face is housing. Families and friends can provide emergency accommodation. The problem is, not everyone has the luxury of this. The government doesn’t put so much effort into truly rehabilitating ex-convicts.
A lot of them require emergency housing once they get out. Some available options are halfway housing, HUD rental programs, religious organizations, and local non-profits. Halfway housing is the first accommodation most felons get after prison. Monitoring is strict, so there is less flexibility. Religious organizations like the Catholic Charity USA is a better option. They provide housing for disadvantaged individuals across the country. HUD provides resources to find affordable housing, including counseling.
It’s very important to have a job as a felon. This helps to increase their chances of being selected by landlords and housing authorities. Unfortunately, violent and sex offenders may have difficulty in getting good housing. For more housing help, there are search engines felons can use. Some of these are Craigslist, Zumper and Zillow.