Finding housing for felons in Delaware 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 Delaware, 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 Delaware that will help you in your pursuit of felon friendly housing.
Felon Friendly Apartments in Delaware
If you are seeking housing resources in Delaware, then you can begin your search with state reentry programs, by looking on Craigslist or through the state’s Department of Correction. To reintegrate yourself into society, it is best to begin with resources that give you the best opportunity for success. For example, the Jobs for Felons Hub website has compiled a list of reentry programs that felons can contact to make the process of looking for housing a less tedious process.
The Community Reentry Services Program of Delaware
One of the programs in Delaware that offers reintegration assistance is the Community Reentry Services Program that is overseen by the Delaware Center for Justice. The services featured in the program include job search assistance, mental health and substance abuse referrals, identification acquisition, vocational and educational placement, social support and life skills training. The CSRP receives funding through an agreement with the Delaware Department of Corrections.
The goal of this program is to make the felon’s transition from the justice system into the mainstream easier by matching participants with the necessary community services and resources.
The CRSP also features classes and workshops that are geared toward building a felon’s skills in various areas. Currently the CRSP features programs at DOC facilities as well as probation offices. For example, the CRSP’s “Dollar and a Dream” club is meant to assist felons obtain career help by giving them pointers on interviewing, resume writing and job seeking. Program applicants receive assistance in obtaining the required education for specific jobs.
The program helps with the housing needs of felons as well as their basic necessities. In addition, family support services are offered as well as mental health and substance abuse services. Healthcare is featured for felons too All the services are meant to contribute to the overall wellness of a felon while he or she makes the transition from the criminal justice system into society.
Other Venues to Consider
Given that felons can access these kinds of services, it is not necessary to begin a housing search at a large apartment community. Usually, the larger communities run background checks. Therefore, to avoid any frustrations in this regard, it is best to review the reentry services that are available, such as those compiled on the state of Delaware’s listing on the Jobs for Felons Hub site, or to take a look at the Craigslist offerings. The housing authority or HUD for the State of Delaware can also help a felon find housing that is affordable or meets with his or her annual income requirements.
Conduct a Background Search on Yourself
Housing search experts advise felons to obtain a background check on themselves before they search for a rental apartment or home. That way, you will know what your background says about you and what landlords see when they are making a search. You can begin the process by following this link. Expect to pay a small one-time fee for the service.
Getting Back into Circulation
Again, the Jobs for Felons Hub website has compiled a listing of re-entry programs to make reintegration into society an easier undertaking. Look over the Delaware reentry programs to streamline your housing or job search.
You can also use your background information when you visit your local Delaware housing authority office. Local housing authorities fall under the jurisdiction of the Housing of Urban Development, also popularly known as HUD.
Besides the above suggestions, you can also seek help through the Delaware Department of Correction (DOC) which can also lead you to the appropriate reentry program. Religious organizations can be contacted as well as faith-based social programs. For example, the Way Home Program for Ex-Offenders is a resource for felons who wish to make a successful transition back into society. The program works with the Delaware DOC and faith-based and civic groups.
All the above-mentioned programs can be used as a way for a felon to regain his or her footing in the community once again. Utilizing these kinds of resources are important as landlords currently are in their right to turn down housing applications from felons. No laws have been enacted in Delaware or any other US state that protects a felon in this respect.
Seeking Felon-friendly Resources
That is why it is important to go to those agencies that are felon-friendly. For example, according to a news report from NPR in April 2016, the HUD has indicated to home sellers and landlords that turning down buyers or tenants with criminal records may violate the Fair Housing Act.
Felons or people with criminal histories are not considered a protected class under the US Fair Housing Act. Therefore, a landlord can be legally justified to turn down a felon. However, the HUD adds that blanket policies of rental refusals to people with criminal records are considered de facto discrimination because of the “systemic disparities of the . . . criminal justice system [in the US].”
Illegal Forms of Housing Discrimination
However, that does not mean it makes it any easier to find a rental apartment as, again, discrimination, if illegal, must refer to a protected class. You can read more about illegal discrimination on NOLO online. For instance, according to NOLO, only certain kinds of discrimination are considered illegal. These discriminations must be associated with race, family status, disability, ethnicity or religion. Gender and sexual orientation are also included in this listing in some states as well.
As a result, landlords can deny a felon housing based on their criminal history alone, especially if the landlord feels it may affect the overall security of his or her community. Therefore, a landlord can deny housing to a felon who sold and distributed illegal drugs as that kind of charge is related to the well-being of others.
Discrimination that is Random in Nature
Nevertheless, landlords can still can get in trouble if they arbitrarily discriminate. For example, any discriminatory practice that leads to the denial of housing that extends to one of the protected classes can land a landlord into hot water.
For instance, if a landlord rents an apartment to a felon who is Catholic but denies housing to a felon who is Buddhist, he or she may be liable for arbitrary discrimination. As religion is a protected class and felons are usually denied housing based on their history, a landlord could be sued if he makes this distinction.
If you are going to deny housing to a felon then, you must make sure that you are denying housing to everyone in that group. That’s because the current legislation mandates that felons living in Delaware be treated alike when they are searching for housing. In other words, rejecting a felon’s application for housing is not considered illegal as long as the landlord does not base the rejection on a felon’s race, ethnicity, family background, religion, disability, or, in some instances, sexual orientation or gender.
That is why social service professionals advise felons to focus their housing search on smaller rental properties. Major property management companies are usually not felon-friendly and will run a background check. Usually, if a felony is in an applicant’s past, he or she will be denied housing. In order to get past this requirement, you would have had to be convicted of a non-violent crime and the charge and incarceration would have had to happen a long time ago.
Delaware Housing Authority
The housing authority in Delaware is run in cooperation with HUD, or the Housing of Urban Development. This agency, in the state, is felon-friendly as some of the programs offer shelter to sex offenders who have been released from prison. For example, the housing authority in the state works with CHANGE Transitional Housing in Wilmington Delaware.
The organization offers housing to single felons in a group home setting. Sex offenders are welcome. To find out more about the various types of housing programs and shelters that are available, click on the link for the Delaware State Housing website.
If HUD in Delaware becomes involved with the housing search, then the rental amount is based on a felon’s annual income. Therefore, HUD offices in Delaware list apartments and homes for people whose income falls below the median range for salaries in their area. HUD establishes salary limitations for cities and town when matching landlords and applicants. As a result, you might call HUD a “matchmaker” for the tenant and landlord.
Delaware Apartment Listings on Craigslist
Craigslist is a popular resource for apartment and home seekers, whether they are a felon or not. Advertisers who place ads for housing on the site usually are less picky about who rents their real estate. As a result, many felons have been successful in obtaining shelter through this medium. In fact, some of the landlords don’t even run a background check.
If a landlord does run a check however, it still is easier to tell him or her about your situation than trying to talk to a representative from a large rental company. In order to check out the housing in Delaware on Craigslist, simply click on this link for the state, then click on the category for apartments/houses.
Reentry Programs in Delaware
Again, reentry programs can help you get your feet wet, so to speak, so you can more easily get back into mainstream activities. These transitional programs have been compiled by JobsforFelonsHub.com so felons can refer to a handy resource. Read the listings by clicking on this link.
The Delaware Religious Community
Now is a good time to volunteer for community service. It not only looks good on a resume, it also places you in a networking position. Volunteer in a faith-based program about two full days per month. Becoming a church member is also helpful as it offers the same kind of exposure as volunteering. Church membership can also serve as a means for housing support and career guidance.
Referrals From Friends and Family
Friends and family members can also be of assistance in a housing search. For instance, it cannot hurt to ask for a friend’s or family member’s referral if you are applying for rental housing. Just don’t allow another party to rent an apartment on your behalf. Make sure you have your name on the lease agreement. Otherwise, you could be sued or evicted from the residence.
Additional Felon Housing Search Tips
To make a first good impression on a rental interview, dress professionally. Reentry programs can direct you to sources for professional-looking apparel. Maintain a positive demeanor and don’t’ get on the defensive about your past. Even if you are denied housing, stay focused on your goal of obtaining an affordable home. Perseverance is the key to unlocking the door to your new rental property.
The above information can serve as a major stepping stone in your integration back into society. The idea is to stay focused on getting housing and using the aforementioned resources for support. Once you find a rental, make sure you stay on good terms with your landlord or rental agent. You don’t want to get a reputation for moving around but want to establish a history of credibility.