Finding housing for felons in Florida 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 Florida, 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 Florida that will help you in your pursuit of felon friendly housing.
Felon Friendly Apartments in Florida
Housing resources in Florida for felons can be located through reentry programs in the state, on Craigslist and through the local housing authority. These are good places to start as they are more felon-friendly and will assist you with your reintegration back into society. Begin by reviewing the reentry programs that have been compiled by the Jobs for Felons Hub website. Starting here can make the process less confusing and complex.
One Featured Florida Program
For example, one of the programs that enable a felon to get used to mainstream life after prison is Project 180. Currently, prisons in Florida house 100,000+ inmates. Of this amount, 30,000+ women and men return to their local communities annually. About 45% of the felons housed in the state prison system are classified as repeat offenders.
Project 180 has been designed as a resource for Florida male felons. The goal of the nonprofit is to lessen the number of repeat offenders in the correctional system and help individuals reenter society. With respect to its residential program, Project 180 offers a two-year, highly structured clean and sober facility along with paid apprenticeships, education and rehabilitation. The progress is safe and gradual, thereby making it easier for felons, especially, with drug or alcohol issues, to step into society.
Other Venues in Florida
Felons are advised by social service experts not to embark on a housing search for an apartment in a major rental community. Usually, the bigger communities will run a background check, all which can serve to frustrate an individual with a criminal history. Because the larger communities turn down applicants with felonies, it is better to review the reentry listings compiled by the Jobs for Felons website or to scour the listings for apartments and houses on Craigslist. The housing authority or HUD in Florida is also another felon-friendly resource.
Perform a Background Check on Yourself
To better understand your civil rights and to reenter society successfully, you should take a hard and realistic look at your own background. That means running a criminal background check on yourself. After all, to objectively communicate with reentry professionals or potential landlords, it is good to know what your background reveals. To initiate a background check, simply start by following this link. A small fee is assessed for the service.
Reentry programs in Florida offer felons the best opportunity to get initiated to mainstream activities. Therefore, scrutinize the listings of the Florida reentry programs in order to make your housing or job search more pleasant. The idea is to work with those agencies or individuals who wish to see you succeed or want to actually help. You also need to visit your local housing authority office.
Housing authorities have been around for many years in Florida as well as other states. They were this country’s first major effort toward supplying affordable housing to Americans with a limited or low income. Housing authorities are usually locally based and are designed to service community needs in a country or a city. Some housing authorities are statewide and therefore help people find affordable housing across the state. Funding for the agencies comes from the HUD, or the Department of Housing and Urban Development. HUD offers Section 8 vouchers programs and public housing alternatives so people can meet their rent and enjoy a pleasant level of comfort.
Besides the above recommendations, you can also obtain assistance for reentry and reintegration through religious and faith-based organizations and certain social programs. The Florida Department of Corrections or DOC also works with felons so they can better adjust to society after incarceration.
One Florida Ministry
One Florida ministry that is situated in Miami, Clewiston and Lakeland, Florida is Remar USA (“remar” means to row in Spanish). This organization assists people with alcohol and drug abuse problems or homeless individuals. The organization offers a long-term program where felons and others are welcome to stay as long as they like. Program providers supply housing, food and a Christian ministry.
For example, Montura Ranch, in Clewiston, Florida, is Remar’s initial phase of their rehab program for men. The farm, which features 25 acres of land, is home to a couple houses, a church and eating area outside. A stable for horses, a pen for pigs and an area for chickens and cows are included as well.. Residents feed the farm animals each day and daily chores are allocated to each of the residents.
Legal and Illegal Discrimination
The above information can assist you in working within programs that are felon-friendly and accessible. Discrimination is not a term that is necessarily associated with an illegal activity. Felons can be discriminated against when they apply for housing. If a landlord believes the individual’s past crime profile could endanger his or her community, he has a right to deny the application.
In fact, people discriminate against other people regularly. For example, people with good credit scores are normally chosen over applicants whose credit is poor. Applicants can also be denied housing if their history includes evictions or the nonpayment of rent. This kind of discrimination is legal as it is based on a legitimate business purpose.
Discrimination becomes illegal if it is based on a person’s status under a legally protected class. Protected classes, when referenced under the US Fair Housing Act, include race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, religion, disability and family background. The first five classifications are contained in the original version of the Fair Housing Act. The last two categories were included in 1988.
A disparate impact doctrine can also play into landlord decisions for tenant housing. The doctrine refers to the Fair Housing Act, or how landlords violate the law when they don’t rent to felons as it causes a disparate impact. In other words, Hispanics and African-Americans, who make up a large percentage of felons, are also discriminated against due to their color or ethnicity. You can read more about this doctrine by following this link.
However, this fact still does not keep landlords from refusing rentals to felons. Fortuantley, some landlords or rental companies are known to be felon-friendly. Many landlords who work with the local housing authority will lease to felons with a non-violent past and reentry programs make every concerted effort to get felons back on their feet so they can live and work in society.
According to NOLO online, illegal discrimination is significant. However, unless you are a felon who is applying for housing with other felons and the landlord bases his decision to turn you down on your ethnicity, race, national origin, sex, disability or family background, you are out of luck.
As a result, a landlord can turn down a felon for housing based on a criminal background alone, particularly if the background, in the landlord’s estimation, will impact the overall security of the community. If your felony, for example, was related to the manufacture and sale of illegal drugs, then you can be turned down as your charge may impact the safety of the tenants in a community.
Nevertheless, landlords can still get into trouble if they rent apartments to some felons but will not rent units to others with criminal backgrounds. For example, if you are a felon with a family and pregnant wife and are told there are no units available but a felon with a family is able to rent an apartment in the same complex, the landlord is breaking fair housing law.
The idea of legal discrimination is to treat all the members of a group, such as felons, the same. If an apartment company makes it a policy to turn down applications from felons, then all the applications coming from felons must be turned down. Unless the discrimination extends to one of the protected classes, most felons have to seek another way to find housing.
If you are seeking housing in Florida then, you need to concentrate your house search on smaller rental units or properties that are not a part of a large apartment community. Larger communities simply are not known to be felon-friendly and usually run a background check. If you want to apply for housing in a large complex, then ask them if they run a background check and tell them about your record before they conduct a screening. That can save you some time and worry.
Florida Housing Authority
Housing authorities in Florida receive funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development or HUD and are designed to represent the interests of felons and others whose income cannot support the housing prices in their neighborhood. If your area median income or AMI falls below a certain percentage, then it is a good idea to visit your housing authority for help. If you cannot receive a rental right away, sign up for housing by including your name on a waiting list.
If you work with your local housing authority, you can obtain rental assistance through means of subsidization. Therefore, you can receive your rent at a discount or even get it for free if your income is far below the AMI for your neighborhood. You can read more about HUD and housing authority offerings by clicking on this link.
Florida Apartment Listings on Craigslist
If you want to bypass governmental intervention, you can always search for apartments and housing rentals on Craigslist. Advertisers that submit listings for housings and apartments are generally more lenient than landlords at large apartment communities.
Some landlords on the platform don’t even check out an applicant’s background. Should the landlords run a background check though, you will still find it easier to explain your situation during your dealings. If you wish to try this option, simply click on the state link for Florida and select the city in which you want to reside. Once you gain access to the portal, you can then choose the category, “Apartments/Houses” and review the listings.
Reentry Programs in Florida
The Jobs for Felons Hub website can steer you in the right direction with its listing of reentry programs in Florida. Take a close look at the offerings by clicking on the indicated link.
The Florida Religious Community
You can either choose to volunteer for community service or join a faith-based program in your community. Both venues make it easier to find a suitable job and housing. One of the religious programs that are available to felons in Florida is His Healing Hand.
Referrals From Friends and Family in Florida
Use families and friends for housing references as well. For example, ask a family member or friend to vouch for you on your Florida housing search. Just make sure you don’t have someone rent an apartment or house your behalf as you could get into big trouble legally. Make sure your name is included on the lease agreement, even if you are not paying the lion’s share of the rent.
Additional Felon Housing Search Tips
Making a good impression is always important when searching for a house or a job. If you don’t have suitable clothes now, find out what thrift stores in the area offer professional clothing for job-seeking and house-hunting applicants. Stay positive during your search and don’t get on the defensive about your history. Even if you are denied for rental housing, stay focused on your objective. Persevere and you will realize your goals.
Using the above information will give you the motivation to find a job and home or to get back into the mainstream for your family. Once you find a place, make every effort to establish a good rapport with your landlord. Stay where you are at and build a solid reputation in your community.