Finding housing for felons in Iowa 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 Iowa, 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 Iowa that will help you in your pursuit of felon friendly housing.
Felon Friendly Apartments in Iowa
According to statistics, 96% of Iowa felons are released and enter reentry programs. The JobsForFelonsHub.com site recognizes the need for felons to re-integrate themselves in society. As a result, they have compiled a reentry listing of programs in Iowa. These programs enable felons to transition back into society gradually and steadily so they are not part of the small percentage of felons that return to the correctional system.
The DOC in Iowa
In addition to the reentry listing, the Department of Corrections (DOC) in Iowa works at transitioning felons from the correctional system into society. The DOC assigns a felon to a facility that matches their custody, treatment and reentry requirements and a reentry case plan is negotiated. Treatment readiness activities entail educational and vocational training along with motivational enhancement. The professionals in the program reassess and transfer felons to a transitional facility as progress is made.
Other Venues for Felons Seeking Housing in Iowa
Besides referencing the aforementioned reentry listings, you can also find shelter through Craigslist and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Local housing authorities in Iowa, which work in conjunction with HUD, make it possible for felons to obtain rentals through subsidization. If a felon’s means of support falls well below the annual median income (AMI) for an area, then HUD or a housing authority steps in to find an affordable rental for a felon.
In some cases, the housing is free for those individuals whose income is far below a community’s AMI. Housing professionals advise to schedule an appointment with a local HUD office or housing authority immediately, especially if the agency cannot provide a move-in apartment and you need to be included on a waiting list.
Don’t Look at Large Apartment Complexes in Your Search for a Rental
What you want to avoid in your search for a rental is applying at an apartment complex of a large property management company. Doing so will usually turn out to be a disappointment. Large property management companies also conduct background checks and normally are not felon-friendly. To make your housing search more positive, refer to the reentry listings and search for rentals and houses that are either listed on platforms like Craigslist or which are considered HUD subsidized.
Seek a Rental through Felon-friendly Venues
Most experienced housing search professionals recommend that felons search for rentals that are featured in smaller apartment complexes or which are rental homes. They also suggest that felons look at transitional housing options. Again, seeking to live in an established public housing complex is not the best way to conduct a housing search.
Check Out Your Background
To ensure success in your housing search, take a look at your criminal background. That way you will know what a landlord might see if they perform a search themselves. Begin the process by following this link. Once you perform the search, you will be charged a very low fee. The cost is worth the investment. You need the criminal background so you can better negotiate the terms of a potential lease.
Legal Discrimination – How It Affects Felons
If you are a felon and are turned down because of your crime, unfortunately it is not usually considered illegal in the US. Unfortunately, felons who live in Iowa and elsewhere in the country can be denied housing. While this rule seems rather unfair, it is still a reality – as reality that is also legally supported.
Naturally, most people think of a discriminatory activity in a negative vein. That is because people often lodge legal complaints about unfair treatment when trying to rent a house or apartment or when securing employment. Discriminatory practices also cause employees to file lawsuits against employers for biases as a result of sex, age, race or ethnicity.
However, discrimination, when based on fact more than bias, is also considered legal, especially when conducting business. For example, if you are turned down for a mortgage loan because of a low credit score, then that is a form of legal discrimination. It is also considered legal to discriminate against applicants who have a history of non-payment of rent or a series of evictions. Therefore, discrimination does not become an illegal activity unless it is based on prejudice.
When a felon in Iowa or elsewhere is denied rental housing, it is usually because of his or her criminal record. Property owners can turn down a felon applicant if they believe their felony charge could negatively impact the people living in their community. Therefore, if you served time for a violent crime or were involved in the illegal distribution of drugs, it is highly unlikely that your application will be accepted. However, if your crime is an old one and was non-violent, then your chances are better for obtaining a rental unit or house.
Unfortunately, according to the mandates established by the Fair Housing Act, felons are part of a group that is a non-protected class. As a result, their applications for a rental home can be rejected. Protected classes, according to the Fair Housing Act, are defined in connection with discriminatory practices that are based on national origin, race, ethnicity, sex, religion, disability or family status. You can read more about these classifications by referring to the site, NOLO online.
Arbitrary Discriminatory Practices
In the state of Iowa and the rest of the US, a property owner still needs to be careful about discriminatory practices that are considered arbitrary. For example, if you apply for a rental dwelling but served time for illegal drug use that stemmed from having a mental disability, the landlord can be sued for illegal discrimination. A disability is listed under a protected class. Therefore, it is illegal for a property owner to turn down an applicant’s application if he or she suffered a disability and was abusing drugs as a result.
Discriminatory practices that are arbitrary can get a landlord in trouble legally as they are usually based more on prejudice than fact. As a result, discrimination that is considered legal is an activity that treats a certain group of housing applicants alike. Unless the discrimination is biased toward an applicant and based on their national origin, family status, sex, ethnicity, disability or religion, they can be turned down for housing if they have a felony conviction. You can read more about this form of discrimination by following this link.
Iowa Housing Authority
Housing authorities in Iowa work with the Department of Housing and Urban Development or HUD to provide affordable rental housing to felons and other people whose income falls below the annual median income or AMI for a local area. Housing authorities in the state are designed so felons and others can work and live in their communities without worry that they cannot meet their rent or afford a house.
In Iowa City, the Housing Authority administers housing assistance programs in an effort to help over 1,200 low-income families obtain affordable housing through ownership and rental program. Rental help includes the Housing Choice Vouchers, also known as an HCVs, Veterans’ Supportive Housing (VASH) and programs in public housing. Most head-of-households in the programs include disabled or elderly people, households with minors, one-person households and working families. The Housing Authority works with about 400 landlords in the state of Iowa.
Iowa Apartment Listings on Craigslist
Craigslist in Iowa is also a reliable resource for anyone in the state to seek an affordable way to rent. The houses and apartments on the site are generally easier to obtain. Typically, the property owners on the platform are smaller investors. As a result, their rental requirements are not a regulated as those of big property management companies. Some of the advertisers even bypass a background check.
Even if a background check is performed, usually potential renters find it easier to negotiate lease terms with people whose rental income is more entrepreneurial in nature. To look at the Craigslist listings, simply click on this link. Find the location where you want to live, then click the category for housing. Include the rental range to short-list your preferences.
Reentry Programs in Iowa
To get used to mainstream living, it helps to scan over reentry programs. The JobsforFelonsHub.com site has compiled the following listings to help you get back into the swing of things. Click on this reentry listing of programs in Iowa to begin.
The Iowa Religious Community
You can also find references for homes and jobs through churches and faith-based initiatives. If you are seeking a rental, it is also helpful to ask your local pastor if you are a member of a church. Working as a volunteer can also help you find housing and job leads.
Referrals From Friends and Family
You can also ask family and friends for support in your efforts to find an apartment or a house. However, don’t ask a close friend or family member to sign a lease on your behalf. Doing so can get you in trouble legally as you could get evicted or sued. Make sure your name always appears on a rental agreement even if you do not provide a large part of the rent.
Additional Felon Housing Search Tips
Be Professional in Your Dealings
To locate a rental or sign up for a reentry program, start out right by behaving and looking professional. Go to a thrift store to pick out some professional looking attire. When you set up a rental appointment, ask pertinent questions and work at establishing a good rapport. This is your chance to shine and go forward.
Reference the Reentry Information
Reference the Reentry information to make your transition easier. In Iowa, the Department of Corrections goes to great lengths to make sure transitioning out of the system is a successful one.
Maintain a Routine
Once your become a renter, make sure you maintain a work routine or work regularly at seeking a job. Make it your main focus to become a valued member of your community.