Finding affordable housing or government grants for housing represents one of the biggest challenges for felons, especially after being released from prison.
While some are lucky to have family or friends waiting for them, others have nowhere to go.
Unfortunately, without resolving the issue, it’s almost impossible to focus on any other problems that may arise.
Luckily, there are several avenues for people with felony-level criminal records to pursue. Let’s look at the best housing grants and housing assistance options for felons.
The Best Housing Grants For Felons
In an ideal situation, people with criminal records would get permanent housing quickly to help them make a fresh start.
However, the transition process typically consists of only temporary housing solutions. Still, having a roof over your head is crucial, so any programs and grants that make it possible are welcome.
Best of all, most of these programs involve resources that felons don’t need to pay back, like grants and vouchers.
Others offer direct accommodation, again with no renumeration needed, but with some requirements.
Housing and Urban Development Programs
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is a government agency that supports community development and facilitates homeownership. Their programs are primarily aimed at people with low income, including felons.
Besides having a low income, the only other requirement is to be a U.S. citizen or a legal alien. But remember that these minimal requirements make HUD programs extremely popular and sought-after.
As a result, the waiting time for a housing solution might be months or even years. Furthermore, you might not get approved on your first attempt.
For this reason, you should apply for a program as soon as possible. The first step is to find your local Public Housing Agency office. After contacting them, you’ll get all the necessary information about the application process and the type of programs they offer.
Keep reading to learn more about the most popular HUD programs.
Public housing might be one of the best options at your disposal. This program is made possible by the federal government and is run by HUD.
Basically, felons get a chance to live in a unit owned by the federal government. Several housing complexes throughout the country offer this provision.
The units might come in the form of apartment complexes, single-family homes, or trailers. You’re more likely to find lower cost housing options in larger cities, but rural areas also offer some public housing solutions.
Although these units are typically rent-free, living in some might entail paying a low monthly rent.
Did you know? These affordable or free housing units are meant as a temporary solution. Eventually, you should find a source of income and move out. This is crucial for giving other people who’ve experienced the same hardships a home.
Public Housing is a part of HUD’s extremely popular Section 8 program. The other option that Section 8 offers is the Housing Choice Voucher program.
This program is also available throughout the country and is aimed at low-income individuals. However, unlike Public Housing, people who receive this assistance don’t have to live in government-owned units. Plus, this is a far better option for long-term housing.
The premise is simple – you receive rent vouchers and can choose where to live. There are many options. Your unit can be an apartment, a duplex, a single-family home, or a trailer. The only requirement is that your choice of dwelling meets the HUD safety standards.
But keep in mind that not all landlords are willing to take in a person previously convicted of a crime.
For example, sex offenders and people with violent crimes on their records usually don’t qualify for this type of housing assistance.
The same goes for people with a history of selling drugs while in federal housing or similar drug-related crimes.
If your criminal record doesn’t bar you from receiving a voucher, you’ll be happy to know that you don’t have to pay back the amount you receive. Depending on your chosen location, the vouchers can cover the entire rent or at least a significant portion.
As with other HUD programs, the waiting lists can be pretty lengthy, so apply as soon as possible.
Besides Public Housing and Housing Vouchers, HUD offers multiple low-income housing grants. These vary from location to location and become available from time to time.
The best option, therefore, is to keep an eye out on the HUD website for grants you may be eligible for as a felon. Here’s what to do:
-Visit the resource locator.
-After your location is established, browse through different options in your area.
-Try to find specific programs aimed at felons.
-Check the program’s eligibility requirements.
-Follow the on-screen instructions to apply for the program.
Pro Tip: Even if the grants aren’t explicitly aimed at felons, check their requirements. You might find options that you’re eligible for, regardless of your criminal record.
Reentry programs help citizens rejoin society after incarceration. Their main goal is to prevent former offenders from repeating crimes they’ve previously been convicted of. Naturally, providing housing is vital in ensuring ex-felons don’t go back to a jail cell.
These state-level programs will help you find housing options willing to work with felons. More importantly, they will assist with rental payments.
The types of reentry programs vary from state to state, so the best option is to look into what is available where you live.
It’s also worth noting that these programs aren’t focused solely on housing. As a result, they can help you with other aspects you might struggle with, such as finding employment.
Catholic Charities Housing Assistance
Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) is a network of charities and one of the largest Christian organizations in the U.S. Its mission is to provide service for people in need, thus assisting in reducing poverty.
Besides, food, health, and work, the organization also helps with affordable housing.
Among other people in need, CCUSA provides financial grants and temporary housing for ex-felons who qualify for its programs. The first step is to locate a branch near you and find out more details about the programs it offers.
Pro Tip: The CCUSA shouldn’t be the only religious organization you contact. It’s always best to have multiple options, so try reaching out to your local religious organizations and inquire about housing grants or assistance.
Even if they don’t offer similar services, they might be able to link you with other organizations to assist you in your quest for affordable housing.
Temporary Assistance For Needy Families
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is a U.S. federal assistance program. The name is self-explanatory.
TANF helps families in need with monetary assistance every month and can help you pay for a rental property in your area.
The program also offers grants for other necessities, such as food, utilities, and medication.
Unfortunately, not all felons will be eligible for TANF. Since the program is primarily aimed at families, you can only apply if you provide for a minor.
Other than this essential requirement, you also have to be a U.S. citizen or legal alien. Furthermore, depending on your location, you might need to enroll in a work program. Check with the local authorities in your state to find out their exact requirements for granting TANF assistance.
Local Housing Nonprofits
Regardless of your state, there are numerous non-profit organizations dedicated to fighting homelessness. These nonprofits can be funded by the government, both federal and state, or private donors.
Typically, they provide emergency housing, meaning it’s a transitional and temporary solution. They mainly house people in crisis, such as individuals with criminal convictions, disabilities, mental health issues, and illnesses like HIV. The main goal is to reduce homelessness and the life of crime usually associated with it.
Halfway houses provide free lodgings in a controlled setting. Many felons are placed in these houses after leaving jail or being unable to find another living arrangement.
These houses have strict rules and schedules you must follow to stay a resident. Moreover, you’ll be assigned specific duties to perform during your time there.
Halfway houses help ex-convicts ease back into society, especially if they have no friends or family to assist them. Of course, they’re also temporary solutions, offering some peace of mind while you seek employment and permanent housing.
You can get a list of halfway houses in your area from your parole officer or on the internet.
Getting Housing Assistance Is Possible!
Although getting out of prison is perceived as a positive thing, some ex-convicts are faced with uncertainty once they’re outside their cell walls.
Housing is arguably one of the most critical aspects of ensuring people with criminal records don’t reoffend.
Luckily, these individuals have several programs to turn to. Some will provide immediate housing, while others offer financial aid.
Whatever the case, they can help ex-felons stand on their two feet and begin a life free of crime.