Finding housing for felons in Illinois 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 Illinois, 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 Illinois that will help you in your pursuit of felon friendly housing.
Felon Friendly Apartments in Illinois
If you are soon to be released from prison or if you have already been released, then you need to take steps to integrate yourself, once again, in mainstream society. In order to get the proper motivation, start by taking a look at the reentry programs compiled for the state of Illinois on the JobsForFelonsHub.com site. Use this list to resource housing and job opportunities. Reentry programs assist felons get back into society by offering them job assistance, housing and apartment referrals and career training.
Ensure a Successful Outcome
Besides referring to the reentry list, you can also find houses and apartments for rent on Craigslist. It is also helpful to schedule an appointment with your local housing authority. Sometimes you have to sign up on a waiting list if move-in apartments are not currently available. Therefore, it is important to schedule an appointment with a HUD (Housing of Urban Development) office or local housing authority at the earliest date possible.
What you don’t want to do is to apply at a large apartment complex. Large apartment communities are run by large property management firms that always run background checks. If you want to avoid wasting your time, do not take this route on your search for an apartment or a house.
Look for an Apartment or House that Stands Along or Is Part of a Small Complex
Housing search experts in Illinois recommend that felons search for rental houses or apartments that are in smaller complexes or which stand alone. They also suggest looking at transitional housing sources as an option. Seeking to live in a large apartment community is not realistic when you have a felony. Large property management firms always run background checks. So, it is in your best interest not to direct your time on housing searches that won’t reap good results.
Therefore, concentrate your efforts of those property owners or companies that are felon-friendly in Illinois. Again, it is always helpful to review the reentry listings for Illinois that have been compiled for the Jobs for Felons Hub website. These reentry listings will, at least, give you a starting point to assess your choices and proceed with confidence.
Perform a Background Search on Yourself First
In order to gain the momentum to search for apartment rentals and housing in Illinois, you need to perform a background search on yourself first. Just start by clicking on or following this link. It only takes a couple minutes and you will be charged a minimal fee. If you want to see what a potential property manager may see when he or she checks out your background, you need to obtain this data.
Once you obtain your background information, you will have the data needed in which to negotiate your housing needs. You also need to understand some basic information about your civil liberties. Felons, unfortunately, in Illinois and elsewhere, can be turned down for housing or an apartment and the law will not prevent the practice. While this fact may seem unfair, it still is a reality – one that is supported by the legislative community.
When you mention the word “discrimination,” most people will conjure up negative image in their mind. However, discrimination is often practiced in business, and it is considered legal in a court of law. In Illinois and other states in the US, legal discrimination is allowed as long as it is based on fact versus prejudice.
For instance, if you have your credit checked in order to get a loan, this is an example of legal discrimination. Also, if a property manager reviews a tenant’s past history for non-payment of rent, this is another form of discrimination that is allowable. Discrimination is legal when it is employed to reach a business decision and is based on facts or data.
When a felon is turned down for housing then, it is often due to their criminal record. Therefore, a property owner has it in his or her right to deny the application of a felon who they consider a potential risk to their community. If your felony was associated with a violent crime or the making and distribution of drugs, then, legally, you can be turned down for housing or an apartment.
The Fair Housing Act in the US avoids illegal discrimination by defining the categories that are protected from housing discrimination. Protected categories are classes that cannot be turned down for a rental due to national origin, race, ethnicity, religion, disability, sex or family status. You can read more about this distinction by referring to NOLO online.
However, with that being said, a property owner in Illinois or any place else in the US, still needs to practice discernment as he or she can still be found guilty of arbitrary discrimination. For example, if a felon seeks to rent an apartment but was convicted of illegal drug use, they can sue a landlord if they are turned down.
If a felon’s drug use stemmed from a mental disability, then the landlord, technically, is guilty of arbitrary discrimination. It appears that the property owner turned down the application because of the felon’s mental disability. Since a disability is considered a protected class, a property owner may be liable for turning down the aforesaid felon’s application.
Basically, arbitrary discrimination is based more on bias than it is on an applicant’s history or record. As a result, any discrimination that is legal is considered an activity that regards all members of a group the same way. Unless the discrimination is based on a person’s national origin, ethnicity, race, sex, family status, religion or disability, a felon can legally be turned away from renting a house or an apartment. You can read more about arbitrary discrimination by following this link .
Illinois Housing Authority
In Illinois, the Illinois Housing Development Authority realizes that people leaving the correctional system need affordable and quality housing. Along with the Department of Housing and Urban Development or HUD, the IHDA works at helping felons find rentals that will meet their housing needs.
According to the IHDA, felons transitioning from correctional facilities cannot access housing because their primary source of income is too small for even the housing that is considered extremely affordable. Housing to felons, according to the Authority, is only accessible when subsidization is supplied. Therefore, the vast number of rental assistance programs are issued by public housing authorities. If you are seeking rental help for a unit, the best place to begin is with the IHDA.
Book an appointment with a local housing authority office ASAP in case you have to sign up on a waiting list for an apartment. Anyone whose means of support falls well below the annual median income (AMI) for his or her area needs to align themselves with the housing authority for their selected community.
Illinois Apartment Listings on Craigslist
In addition to contacting the local housing authority office, it is also helpful to review Craigslist postings for Illinois. These listings often advertise rentals that are easier to rent. That is because the property owners are smaller real estate investors that are more entrepreneurial in nature. Therefore, their rental terms are not as strict.
A felon seeking housing on Craigslist then has better chance as he or she will find it much simpler to negotiate terms. To begin your search on Craigslist, start by clicking on this link. Choose your preferred city, then click on the house and apartment listings and include your salary range.
Reentry Programs in Illinois
In order to become adjusted to working and living in the mainstream, you need to review the reentry listings that have been gathered by the Jobs for Felons Hub website. Refer to the reentry programs compiled for the state of Illinois to keep on top of your options.
The Illinois Religious Community
Resourcing local churches and faith-based organizations is also helpful for felons seeking rentals and jobs. If you are a member of a church, ask your pastor for resources that may help in your housing or job search. One faith-based reentry program you can review in Illinois is 7-70 Reentry Services.
Referrals From Friends and Family
You can also volunteer your time in community-based programs and find out about job and housing information this way. Also, ask friends or family about housing alternatives. However, don’t permit anyone to rent an apartment on your behalf. Make sure your name is on the lease or you could get sued and evicted. Always make sure your name is on a lease contract even if you don’t contribute a large amount to the monthly rent.
Additional Felon Housing Search Tips
Choose Professional Attire
If you want to be successful in a housing or job search, you also have to look successful as well as professional. Whether your clothes are casual or traditional, make sure you come across professionally. Making a good initial impression will make your housing and rental search more positive. When making an appointment, ask salient questions and work at establishing a professional rapport.
Maintain a Regular Schedule
Once you find a rental in Illinois, make sure you follow a regular schedule of work. You want to stay at your new address for at least two years to show that you are committed to staying in one place and following a specific track.