Finding housing for felons in Alabama is no easy task and we want to assure you that we understand your struggle. Every month we have dozens of people ask our organization for this information and as much as we wish we had a list of felon friendly apartments in Alabama, this information is too difficult to gather as we don't have enough staff on hand to handle the task.
With that being said, we've done the next best thing. Below is a list of organizations and resources in Alabama that will help you in your pursuit of felon friendly housing.
Felon Friendly Apartments in Alabama
In order to find housing or felon friendly apartments in Alabama, you first need to understand your options. Generally, you can obtain the housing assistance you need by going through the local housing authority or HUD, reviewing Craig’s List listings and checking out the re-entry programs for your state.
To begin the process, perform a background check on yourself by clicking on the following link.
With that being said, obtaining an apartment in Alabama or any other state in the US can be a challenge for a felon. Therefore, it helps to know your rights and what resources you need to take. For example, rejecting a tenant because he has a felony conviction is a form of discrimination. However, no legal safeguards have been instituted against the practice.
According to NOLO online, “Only certain kinds of discrimination are regarded as illegal.” These forms of discrimination take the form of race, religion, ethnicity, family status and disability. Some states have included sexual orientation or gender to that list. However, most felony convictions are not included on any of the states’ lists for illegal discrimination.
According to NOLO though, it is illegal for landlords to discriminate against applicants for a felony conviction for the use of drugs as this can fall under the classification of a mental “disability.” However, the landlord may turn away an applicant who was charged with the manufacture and sale of the substances. This type of activity, in the landlord’s estimation, might affect the health and well-being of the other tenants in his community.
Nevertheless, landlords can get into hot water if they practice, unbeknownst to them, arbitrary discrimination. For example, if a landlord denies an African American felon an apartment, based on his “felony conviction,” but permits a Caucasian felon to reside in the unit, he can be sued for illegal discrimination. That is because the discrimination extended to the race of the applicant.
Legal advisors suggest in Alabama and other states that, as a general rule, discrimination is not considered unlawful when it is applied to everyone (felons, in this case) in the same way. In Alabama, and throughout the US, discrimination against a felony conviction is not typically considered unlawful as it is not attributed to a protected class. You can read supporting information by clicking on this link.
Generally, it is best to stay away from property management companies as their rules are stringent, especially when renting to felons. They always run background check. Therefore, you stand the best chance for obtaining housing if your conviction was for a non-violent offense and is currently over ten years old.
Nevertheless, one property management group in Alabama that is known to be felon-friendly is the Golden Rule Real Estate Team. This property management firm is based in Huntsville, Alabama.
Alabama Housing Authority
Also referred to the Housing of Urban Development or HUD, a housing authority is a governmental agency in the US that oversees the housing for a county or city. HUD agencies often feature low-income/low cost rent type housing to people in need. In some cases, the housing is free. Most housing authorities will feature housing that is ready for move-in. If not, then you will need to get on a waiting list.
A housing authority bases your rent on your income per year. For example, if your income is below that of the national poverty level, then you will receive your rent at a discounted rate. If your income is well below the poverty level, then you may qualify for free housing. This type of availability should not be confused with section 8 HUD housing.
While most HUD agencies do have felon-friendly apartments for rent, it is also possible that you will have to add your name to a waiting list. This waiting period can span from three, six or one year after release from prison. Each of the housing authorities’ policies vary. Once you are released from prison, visit a housing authority office ASAP in case you have to be put on a waiting list.
Known as the Alabama Housing Finance Authority (AHFA) in Alabama, this agency reserves rental units for people that earn less than the median income for an area. Units are subject to certain controls, designed to make sure that rents are affordable. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, establishes rent and income limits. They act as a go-between between the landlord and a low-income tenant. Therefore, the AHFA is considered a resource for this kind of housing. You can learn more about AHFA rentals and housing by clicking on the following link.
Alabama Apartment Listings on Craigslist
Craigslist is considered an ideal venue for apartment seekers who are felons. Most of the advertisers who feature apartments on the site are not major apartment leasing companies, which means they usually are investors that own one or two apartment units. As a result, some of the landlords do not run a background check. Even if an owner does run a check, you can speak to him or her face to face and explain your past.
When you visit the Craigslist site, select your state where you are seeking a rental, then locate the housing section on the platform. Add the minimum and maximum rental range. Just make sure, again, to stay away from listings that are associated with large apartment complexes. These listings are normally featured by property management firms – companies that have strict guidelines about renting to felons. For Alabama, access these by following this Craigslist link.
Reentry Programs in Alabama
Alabama is home to several excellent re-entry programs for felons. These kinds of programs enable felons to find housing, jobs and support. Even the Department of Corrections in Alabama has an exceptional pre-release program for felons. The cost is free and has enabled the state to curb its recidivism rates. Some programs are designed for veterans only while others are specifically set up for drug and alcohol addiction or felons who are women. You can obtain further details by clicking on the reentry programs compiled by our organization for the state of Alabama.
The Alabama Religious Community
The religious community in Alabama can also be a source of support to felons which are trying to regain a foothold once more in society. For example, the Foundry Ministries, in the state assists felons re-enter the mainstream by offering to help them find a job and housing. Their programs span up to six months. Other organizations of note include the Greater Birmingham Ministries, Bridge Ministries of Birmingham and South Highland Presbyterian.
Referrals From Friends and Family
You can also obtain housing and job assistance in Alabama by asking for help from friends and family. Ask people who are familiar with the area to assist in your job and housing search. They may be able to vouch for you when seeking a job or applying for a rental.
Perhaps a family member or friend enjoys a good relationship with a landlord. If so, he or she could be given as reference. Don’t have someone else rent your place on your behalf. If a landlord discovers you did this, he may have you evicted, which could further tarnish your record as well as the person who rented the unit. Even if you are not paying the rent, you still need to be listed on the rental agreement.
Additional Felon Housing Search Tips
It is not easy to rent housing when you are a felon. Landlords have it in their right to ask you if you have ever been convicted of a felony. Unless your conviction was for the use of drugs, they have it in their right to deny you tenancy. What this means is that you will need to spend more time looking for an apartment or house. However, if you follow the tips below, it should make the search easier:
- Make a good initial impression by showing up for a rental appointment with a cheerful demeanor and attitude. Be professional. Ask questions that are relevant to your housing needs. Establishing a good landlord-tenant relationship is important for preventing any future disputes. You need establish this kind of relationship if you also want to avoid any frequent moves. Needless to say, making a first good impression is essential.
- Be up-front with a potential landlord about being a felon. Once you decide you want to rent an apartment, you can reveal your criminal history. Briefly explain your conviction and try not to sound defensive. Simply review the history in a matter-of-fact way. Be prepared to answer any inquiries about your character, such as what you learned about committing the crime and why you can be counted on as a tenant today.
- Concentrate on searching for single-occupancy homes versus high-density units, such as multiplexes and apartments. Doing so will enable you to deal with more compliant landlords versus strict property management companies.