Finding proper housing is a basic need and poses one of the most significant challenges for felons. In most cases, getting a decent job is already hard enough, and there are numerous social considerations to take into account.
It would be great if at least getting a roof over your head was more straightforward.
Luckily, that might be the case with HUD housing.
Depending on your circumstances, you might be eligible for this type of public housing to resolve this crucial life issue.
What Does HUD Mean?
HUD stands for Housing and Urban Development. It’s a government department charged with public housing and was founded a little less than a century ago in 1937. That year, the federal government approved an act that would become known as the Housing Act of 1937.
The act allowed government loans toward affordable housing and rents and improved the overall housing quality for low-income families.
In 1974, the government enacted Section 8 of the Housing Act. This section allowed the HUD to issue vouchers to assist low-income housing.
In other words, the government created a rental program that was federally funded and functioned in every state.
Section 8 is where things become complicated for felons. This mechanism is fairly complex; whether felons can apply for it depends on several factors.
What May Prevent Felons From Getting Section 8 HUD Housing?
Firstly, it’s worth mentioning that people might not qualify for Section 8 housing regardless of their criminal record.
That being said, felons might have a harder time getting this type of housing, particularly when specific felonies are considered.
The good news is that HUD housing for felons isn’t impossible. Yet, certain types of felonies will make it much more challenging, and two will lead to automatic disqualification:
-Felonies that warrant a lifelong sex offender registration
-Using funded housing to manufacture methamphetamine
Apart from these, other felonies will produce different results. However, a criminal conviction will never be the only criterion when deciding on an applicant.
In fact, the anti-discrimination laws directly prevent that criterion from being the only relevant factor.
The reason is quite simple: Many felons have low incomes, and discriminating against felons would also discriminate against the low-income group.
Applicants may be disqualified in the case of felonies that are less than five years old, but certain areas may require this period to be 10 years. Also, convictions for violent crimes, drug trafficking, or specific types of fraud can result in disqualification.
Besides the criminal record, factors that could lead to disqualification include a history of alcohol or drug abuse, physical or verbal assaults on previous neighbors, and history of rent defaults.
Most of these criteria ensure the safety and health of the other tenants in the building or area.
What’s the Screening Process?
Every person applying for Section 8 housing will go through a background check. It’s a standard part of the application process and relates to all applicants, regardless of whether they’ve been convicted of a felony or not.
The screening process isn’t limited to the applicant either. A background check will be run for anyone currently residing with the applicant, including those 16 or older and biological parents.
The point of the screening is to determine the severity of potential applicant felonies.
Did you know? Housing units within the HUD program fall under a similar level of scrutiny as those applying for them. A group of investigators and auditors constantly works to identify public housing health or safety issues. This includes, among many other things, detecting mold, lead, and other unsafe conditions.
Interacting With People Living in Section 8 Housing
Felons are free to visit anyone living in Section 8 housing for a relatively brief period. However, felons can’t spend the night there unless proper approval is obtained. The resident is responsible for getting that approval.
The local Public Housing Authority and the landlord must approve the overnight stay. Furthermore, the request must be formulated so that the exact type of felony is clearly indicated.
Similarly, residents need to get approval from the Public Housing Authority and the landlord if they want a felon to move in with them. Note that reporting a felon moving in to live with someone in Section 8 housing is mandatory.
If the resident doesn’t report this, they might lose Section 8 housing rights.
Can Felons Get Priority for Section 8 Housing?
Section 8 housing is designed for low-income individuals and families. This means that gross annual income will be the main criterion for eligibility and determining who gets priority.
A criminal background won’t play a significant role here. Like all other applicants, felons will probably go directly on a waiting list for housing. However, if certain conditions are met, an applicant might move closer to the top of the list.
Priority applicants will be those with an urgent need for housing, including:
-The homeless or people living in shelters
-An applicant with severe medical emergencies
-Those with a condemned current apartment
-Those whose rent surpasses 50% of income
-Persons suffering from domestic violence
-Unjustifiably evicted people
As this list shows, felonies won’t make getting priority any easier or harder.
Applying for HUD Housing
Like many other matters, a HUD application will require plenty of paperwork. Here are the essentials when applying:
-The application form
-Certificate of U.S. citizenship and legal status
-Social security number
-Pay stubs for the past three months (or six months, depending on location)
–Criminal record check
-Proof of residence with addresses from the previous five years listed
-Government agency statements about any benefits like food stamps
Besides the paperwork, applicants will need to attend an interview conducted by the Public Housing Authority. For felons, this might be the main part of the process.
The interview will be a chance for an offender to make their case and recommend themselves for Section 8 housing.
If this process seems daunting or overly complex, there are agencies and community programs designed to assist people wishing to apply for HUD housing.
In addition to getting this help, it would be best to apply in several areas. Each area has its own Public Housing Authority, which might reach a different decision. This translates into higher chances of getting approved.
Did you know? Rent for HUD housing will differ depending on your circumstances. The rent is determined based on income and may be 30% of adjusted monthly income, 10% of regular monthly income, minimum rent of up to $50, or welfare rent. Of these options, the highest will be taken into account.
The Length of the Approval Process
As is apparent from the description given so far, applying for HUD housing is a lengthy process with plenty of steps. Unfortunately, the application process isn’t the only thing that will last a long time. The same will apply to the approval.
The length of the approval process will depend on the area. Certain high-demand areas might have an approval process that lasts for several years, while others might approve an application in less than a year.
In a best-case scenario, you might wait for six months, which is still a relatively long time for housing approval. This will be the case with less competitive areas and small towns.
It would be best to check on the application every three months, even in a high-demand area, to see whether it is still on the waiting list.
HUD Housing Is Possible for Felons
Even though it won’t be straightforward to get, HUD housing represents a realistic opportunity for felons.
The application process doesn’t discriminate against felons based solely on their criminal record. This means that everyone will receive the same chance.