Mar 14, 2023
The U.S. criminal justice system has received vast criticism for its tendency to punish people harshly and disproportionately.
This includes felon stigmatization, as these people are often barred from basic opportunities and services like housing.
It’s especially true for felons who re-enter society after serving prison sentences. Many find themselves without a place to stay or lack the financial means to secure one, leading to homelessness and other challenging circumstances.
Fortunately, government agencies and organizations try to ensure felons have affordable and accessible housing. There are numerous grants felons can use to secure housing and other services.
Halfway Housing Grants
After serving time in prison, felons often go to transitional homes. The service also goes by the name Residential Re-Entry Center (RRC). The purpose is to support ex-convicts with their reintegration into the community.
The residents of transitional homes need to respect some rules, act responsibly, and be diligent. If any serious violation occurs, the person can return to prison.
Temporary homes are often the go-to solution for felons who don’t find a housing grant.
The benefits of halfway housing include access to shelter, food, and security. However, some significant downsides are lack of privacy, strict monitoring, and little help with healthcare, employment, and other basic needs.
Section 8, or the Housing Choice Voucher Program by the federal government, is a special program that assists low-income families, the elderly, the disabled, and felons. The program offers numerous housing grants and vouchers, but receiving them can be tricky for ex-convicts.
The conditions to receive the Section 8 voucher prevent violent ex-convicts and sex offenders from applying. Also, felons with a history of selling crystal methamphetamine (meth) will have difficulty getting in.
Finally, the procedure for getting the Section 8 voucher is often time-consuming. The demand for these vouchers is high, and there is a long waiting list. In some areas, it can take from two to four years to find housing.
HUD Rental Assistance Programs
HUD stands for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. It is a federal agency that offers help to felons re-entering society. The agency operates in every state, and its office governs different housing programs in the city.
As a felon, you need clear information on how to get affordable housing. HUD offers information on where to find housing grants for felons within budget.
Do note that all affordable or free assistance programs are only temporary. Felons still need to have a proper income and eventually move out of the subsidized house so other felons can get in.
Given the popularity of the HUD housing program, you may not be able to get housing on the first try. The office has waiting lists, and the waiting time is up to 12 months. It’s best to visit the housing authorities as soon as possible.
Additionally, HUD doesn’t offer grants, but they can result in alternatives for low-income housing like Homeless Assistance, Homeless Counselling Services, and Public Housing.
Did you know? Over the years, HUD has helped tens of millions of Americans in housing and community development programs. Thanks to them, more than 4.3 million low-income community members have safe and affordable housing today.
Public housing is among the most popular options for felons regarding housing assistance, also known as local public housing authorities or PHAs.
Scattered Sites units are available in many cities offering reduced housing through local PHAs. Ex-convicts can apply for public housing through HUD.
When choosing public housing, you get to live in government-owned units. These units are available across the country and are often available for free or low cost, depending on the applicant’s household income. Rent can be anywhere from 10 to 30% of the gross salary.
Again, sex offenders and those who committed drugs-related drugs usually can’t make it to these dwellings.
Homeless felons can turn to HUD for information about local felon-friendly shelters. The HUD Exchange website offers more information where you can filter by states and cities. You’ll find a list of homeless service providers for every state and contact information.
Housing Counseling Service
Regardless of where you are in the housing process, you can contact HUD-approved Housing Counseling for insights and answers.
Felons looking for advice or guidance can also turn to HUD professional housing advisors at (800) 569-4287.
Organizations Offering Housing Grants for Felons
Numerous religious, non-profit, and non-government organizations offer housing assistance to felons.
Some of them even provide greater flexibility compared to federal programs.
Below is a list of the most common ones available throughout the country.
Catholic Charities USA
Catholic Charities is a popular example of a religious organization that offers housing assistance to felons. They have been around for more than 100 years and are known for providing food, healthcare, housing, and employment in every state.
Financial aid is also available. You can check the Catholic Charities website for detailed information about opportunities in your area.
Many felons prefer housing through religious organizations because it gives them more flexibility and freedom, as well as more in-house privacy compared to halfway housing.
Every state has non-profit organizations that help low-income families, the elderly, people with disabilities, and ex-convicts to find housing. The primary purpose of these organizations is to prevent homelessness and help people in need.
Most non-profits receive funding from the state, but some also get government funds.
One notable example is the Hope for Felons organization, founded by an ex-convict who is now a criminal justice student. They help felons find jobs and housing.
Salvation Army Housing Assistance
The Salvation Army provides emergency loans and can assist people with rent and similar costs. The organization has been around for more than 150 years and consists of volunteer members who help the community.
The Salvation Army helps needy offenders find local housing grants in the short term. The purpose is to lower poverty and help people in need, including felons.
You can find the local Salvation Army chapter near you by visiting the official website.
Other Places to Look for Housing Assistance
Here is a list of additional places where you can look for housing assistance as a felon:
-Felon-friendly apartments on Craigslist or Zumper
Zillow’s Community Pillar Program
Pro Tip: When it comes to high-demand grants and programs like halfway housing, increase your chances of finding suitable accommodation within months by applying as soon as you finish serving your sentence.
Getting Housing Grants Assistance As A Felon
Finding affordable housing is a major issue in the ex-convict community. Fortunately, many federal, state, religious, and non-profit organizations help felons find suitable housing opportunities that meet their budgets.
Consider the ideas above and do further research to understand which grants and assistance programs are available in your area. The sooner you start the process, the better, given the long waiting lists in some regions.