Finding housing for felons in Maine 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 Maine, 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 Maine that will help you in your pursuit of felon friendly housing.
Felon Friendly Apartments in Maine
If you are just beginning a housing search in Maine, then you can begin by looking at the listings for reentry programs in Maine compiled by the JobsForFelonsHub.com site. The reentry listing is the first stepping stone and resource you want to use to make positive use of your house and job search time. Other ways to find felon-friendly housing is by searching on Craigslist or scheduling an appointment with your local Maine housing authority or HUD office.
The Southern Maine Reentry Center
You can also find assistance through Maine’s Department of Corrections or DOC. Women felons who qualify are invited to review the program offerings at the DOC’s Women’s Reentry Center or the Southern Maine Re-entry Center (SMRC) before release from prison. The SMRC was established to provide women felons with the experience and skills needed to live successfully in the mainstream as they transition from a correction facility and establish a home in their local community. The goal of the program is placed to reduce recidivism rates and increase positive outcomes. Therefore, the plan is to help female felons –
· Become employed in high demand jobs
· Make use of effective parenting skills
· Obtain stable housing after prison
· Remain alcohol and drug-free
· Become active citizens in their community
· Make healthy life choices
The SMRC, which is located in York County, Maine holds up to 64 women felons.
In order for a woman felon to enter the SMRC, she –
· Must have served, at the minimum, 120 days of her felony sentence and have about one year left to complete it
· Show that she is committed to a life that is crime-free and positive during her stay at the Women’s Center in Windham
· Is classified as a community security or minimum level risk
This type of reentry program as well as other reentry programs in Maine allow both women and men felons to gain work in high-demand jobs that they can maintain after their release or following their time in reentry. If you are seeking housing or employment then, reentry will enable you to work toward the goal of seeking permanent housing and maintaining a regular routine.
Don’t Begin Your Search at a Large Apartment Complex
In Maine, it is important not to begin your house or rental search at a large apartment community if you don’t want to set yourself up for frustration. Multiplex communities are also supervised by large property management companies. Therefore, background checks are almost normally required. Therefore, it is best to review the reentry listings that have been compiled for Maine by the JobsForFelons.com site or make an appointment with your local HUD office or housing authority agency.
Perform Your Own Background Check
To begin the process of a house or rental search, you first want to check out your own criminal background. By performing a background check, you can determine what your background says, which can be helpful to you when you are negotiating a lease or applying for transitional housing. You can start the process by following this link. A small one-time fee is charged for the service.
A Positive Way to Get Reintegrated into Society
Any of the above-mentioned programs will help get your reintegrated into society and stay on a positive footing. Utilizing the above services is essential as property managers have it in their right to turn down applications from felons. No laws have been put into effect in Maine or anywhere else in the US that disallows a landlord from denying a felon’s application.
Unfortunately, felons in Maine and the rest of the US are not considered to be a protected class under the regulations of the US Fair Housing Act. Therefore, landlords can legally turn down a felon’s application. However, the HUD says that blanket policies of rental refusals may be considered to be de facto discrimination because of certain “system disparities” in correctional facilities in the US. Even with that recognition, it still can be a challenge to find a rental if you have a criminal record.
According to the site, NOLO online, only certain types of discrimination are actually against the law. While we normally think of discrimination as being illegal, it is considered legal as well. Any time you get your credit checked, the check is a form of legal discrimination. As long as the discrimination is done for business purposes and does not extend to a protected class, it is allowable. Housing applicants are protected if the reason for denying their application is based on national origin, race, sex, ethnicity, family status, disability or religion.
However, with that being said, you can still get approved for a rental if your felony charge was for the illegal use of drugs, provided the use stemmed from a mental or physical disability. As a mental or physical disability is a protected class, you could actually, in this case, rent an apartment and have a criminal record. Otherwise, in most all cases, your application will be turned away by a large property management company.
Nevertheless, certain legal precedents must still be considered, particularly if a property manager does not treat all felons similarly. This type of behavior is listed under the definition of arbitrary discrimination, which is further explained by clicking on this link.
For instance, if a property owner accepts the housing application of a felon who is a practicing Catholic but refuses an application from a devout Islamic, then he or she can get into trouble for arbitrary discrimination. The idea of “legal” discrimination is to treat all applicants the same. When one felon is denied an apartment but another one is able to rent an apartment from the same company, the court will note the variance.
Therefore, according to the law in Maine and elsewhere in the US, felons must be treated the same when it comes to housing. Rejecting an application from a felon is not illegal as long as it does not extend to the protected classes.
In other words, as long as the property manager does not deny the application based on a felon’s ethnicity, sex, national origin, race, disability, religion or family status, he or she is in their right to refuse a felon housing. He or she just must make sure that the decision is based on fact rather than bias. If the landlord feels a felon’s criminal history might pose a threat to his or her community, then they are in their legal right to deny a housing application.
If you are currently looking for rentals in Maine, try to focus your search on housing that is part of a smaller apartment complex or is a single unit. Once more, large apartment communities run a background check and therefore make it a policy not to rent to felons. You may be able to secure housing however if your felony is several decades old and you were convicted of a non-violent crime. However, if the felony is recent or you were involved in a violent crime, you will usually be turned down. Stick to looking on Craigslist and reviewing the current listings with your local housing authority during your search.
Maine Housing Authority
The Maine State Housing Authority works in conjunction with the Housing of Urban Development or HUD in Maine to provide affordable housing to felons and others whose income falls below the annual median income or AMI in their community. You should set up an appointment with your local housing authority or HUD office as soon as you are released from prison so you can sign up on a waiting list if the agency does not have any move-in apartments available. The sooner you sign up, the better your chances will be for getting an apartment.
The HUD in Maine bases the rental amount you pay on your annual income. As a result, you can receive a rental discount for apartments in participating HUD communities or even obtain an apartment for free. If your means of support falls well below the AMI, then getting free housing is a possibility.
Maine Apartment Listings on Craigslist
Craigslist is an excellent resource for finding jobs or homes. The landlords that advertise on the site are less specific about their rental criteria. As a result, some of the advertisers don’t even perform background checks. However, even if they do, they are easier to talk to and explain your situation and rental needs. You can begin a search on Craigslist for housing by clicking on this link. Click on the “housing” link at the top and short-list your selections by inserting your rental range.
Reentry Programs in Maine
Reentry programs are some of the best ways to get back to work and find a house. Make sure you use the listings for the reentry programs in Maine that have been compiled by the JobsForFelonsHub.com site for resource purposes.
The Maine Religious Community
Besides reentry, you can also get housing leads through your local church or through faith-based organizations in Maine. If you are currently a member of a church, ask them for guidance in helping you secure housing or a job.
Referrals From Friends and Family
You can also ask for housing tips from friends and family. Just make sure you don’t use your friends or family to lease an apartment on your behalf. Your name, legally, needs to be on the lease. Otherwise, you could find yourself in legal hot water. You need to be listed as an occupant if you do not want to get evicted or sued.
Additional Felon Housing Search Tips
It is not easy to search for housing when you have a felony background. However, it can be accomplished as long as you know where to look and can take advantage of transitional housing resources in the meantime. In order to make sure you accomplish your goal, dress professionally to rental appointments and maintain a business-like demeanor.
To make a first good impression, visit a thrift store and collect an ensemble of professional-looking clothes. Stay focused on your search and keep the reentry information that has been compiled by the JobsForFelonsHub.com at your side as well.
Once you obtain a rental, stick to a routine of searching for jobs or going into work. You can make the transition a positive one as long as you work with those agencies or programs that are felon-friendly and ready to help.