Finding housing for felons in Massachusetts 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 Massachusetts, 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 Massachusetts that will help you in your pursuit of felon friendly housing.
Felon Friendly Apartments in Massachusetts
The place to start your housing and jobs search is through the reentry listings for Massachusetts that have been compiled by the JobsForFelonsHub.com site. Referring to these programs will enable you to go forward with greater success and confidence. Refer to the list often while you are transitioning back into the mainstream.
If you are about to be released from prison, then you will want to take note of the Department of Correction’s reentry offerings. The Reentry Services Division of the DOC can coordinate “in-reach” programs for felons that are preparing for prison release. The presentations, which are hosted at all DOC facilities, feature outside speakers who inform felons about the broad array of reentry services that are available to them.
Speakers typically represent the DOC’s Reentry Services Division as well as comprise institutional housing search specialists, employment readiness workshop professionals and transitional housing program specialists. Speakers may also represent such agencies as the Division of Career Services or MassHealth. If you have not yet been released from prison, these types of agencies can help you realize success once you start reintegrating yourself into the mainstream. Don’t bypass these opportunities as they offer you felon-friendly ways to get back on track monetarily and residentially.
That is why it is important to depend on the reentry listings featured for Massachusetts that have been compiled by the JobsForFelonsHub.com site. This basic list will help you locate programs and resources that will make your readjustment into society both positive and meaningful.
Other Massachusetts Housing Resources
Besides referring to the above information, you can also search for housing through such venues as Craigslist and the Department of Housing and Urban Development or HUD. The HUD and local housing authorities in Massachusetts and other states help felons locate apartments that are both affordable and meet with their basic residential requirements.
HUD refers to a felon’s AMI or annual median income in order to source apartments that are move-in ready. Try to apply to your local housing authority or HUD office as soon as your prison release to convey your interest in obtaining a residence. While some offices may offer apartments that can be moved into right way, some housing authorities may require that you add your name to a waiting list. You can add your name to the list while living in transitional housing in the interim.
Don’t Apply to Large Massachusetts Property Management Companies
Don’t waste your time by applying to large Massachusetts property management companies. Multiplex communities normally do not accept tenants with a criminal background. Stick to looking on Craigslist, working with HUD or your local housing authority, and applying to programs that assist felons in reentry.
Review Your Own Criminal Record
Before you begin a diligent housing search, take some time and run a criminal history check on yourself. That way you can better prepare yourself for negotiating a lease and applying for transitional housing. It takes a couple minutes to run the search and you are only charged a minimal fee. Use your record as a resource to better communicate with a potential property manager or landlord. You can start the process now by following this link.
Why Felons Are Discriminated Against When They Apply for Housing
If you feel that being turned down for an apartment rental is unfair because of your record, you are not alone. Felons are regularly turned down for rental housing in large apartment communities in Massachusetts and all the other states in the US. That is because felons are not considered part of a protected class.
According to the Fair Housing Administration, individuals who apply for housing that are turned down because of their national origin, sex, ethnicity, race, religion, family status or disability, can sue a property manager if he or she turns them down for housing for any of these reasons. However, a landlord is in their right to turn down a felon if he or she believes the applicant’s criminal history might pose a threat to his or her community.
Property managers in Massachusetts and all the other US states can also discriminate against applicants who have past evictions or have not paid their rent. When discrimination is based on a business transaction and fact, then it is never considered illegal and therefore is allowable by law.
How Illegal Discrimination is Handled
Legal discrimination becomes illegal when a property manager denies a housing applicant a rental based on their own biases. Therefore, any property manager who turns an applicant away because they have a personal prejudice towards the applicant’s ethnicity, family status, race, religion, national origin, disability or sex can be sued for illegal discrimination. When discrimination is mentioned then, you cannot assume it is automatically illegal. You have to look at the basis for the practice.
One case in point – A felon who applies for a rental who was charged with the illegal use of drugs because of a mental or physical disability actually is in their right to rent the unit. That is because their charge stemmed from a disability – which is categorized as a protected class under the law.
Basically, though, if you are a felon, expect to regularly be turned down by large apartment communities, especially if your charge is recent or you were convicted of a violent crime. Also, if you are a sex offender or served time for the manufacture of methamphetamine, you generally cannot apply to apartment complexes or to HUD agencies or local housing authorities. Read more about illegal discrimination by referring to NOLO online.
The Fair Housing Act as It Applies US Felons
Generally, discrimination is illegal when a property manager or landlord makes a rental decision, based on an applicant’s national origin, family status, sex, ethnicity, religion, race or disability. Most felons are denied housing based on their felon history alone. If the reason for the felony, however, is based on a protected classification, such as a disability, then the felon is in their legal right to rent an apartment.
While property managers can reject a felon’s housing application, based on the applicant’s record, they also must make sure their decision is one that is based purely on fact. Any decision that extends to a protected class, such as ethnicity, sex, family status, national origin, disability or religion, can be cause for a lawsuit against the landlord.
For example, if a landlord rents an apartment to a felon who is from the US but does not rent a unit to a felon from another country, he or she could get in trouble for arbitrary discrimination. The choice to rent or not to rent a residence must be based, again, on fact alone, not on the property owner’s personal preferences. Landlords, by law, are required to follow the regulations and statutes set up by the Fair Housing Administration. You can read more about arbitrary discrimination by following this link.
Massachusetts Housing Authority
In Massachusetts, the local housing agency to see is MassHousing. Created in 1966, MassHousing is a quasi-public and independent agency that provides financing for affordable housing in the state of Massachusetts. The agency sells bonds and lends the proceeds to lower income and moderate income homebuyers. The agency does not use tax money to sustain operations. However, it does administer programs that are publicly funded on behalf of the state. Since it began, the agency has supplied over $18.5 billion for people in need of affordable housing.
MassHousing also offers affordable rentals that are financed by the agency. Access the online form and inquire about housing by following this link.
Local housing authorities work in collaboration with HUD to provide housing for low-income renters. The rental amount is either discounted or, in some situations, is free. The rental amount is based on an area’s annual median income or AMI. Therefore, if your means of support or annual salary falls well below the AMI for your area, you can receive a significant discount on your rent or obtain a place to live for free.
Working with an agency entails scheduling an appointment at your earliest convenience. As stated, you may need to be placed on a waiting list if apartments are not currently available. The sooner you make contact, the sooner you will be able to obtain an apartment or house. If your charge keeps you from contacting HUD, a housing authority or similar agency, speak with the DOC to obtain housing information. Also, reference the reentry listings that have been compiled for Massachusetts by the JobsForFelonsHub.com site.
Massachusetts Apartment Listings on Craigslist
Once more, Craigslist is an excellent resource for obtaining a rental home. Usually, landlords are entrepreneurs or small real estate investors. Therefore, they may not even run a background check. Even if they do run a criminal history check, they are easier to communicate with than property managers at larger communities.
To review the Craigslist Massachusetts postings for housing, you will need to click on this link. Next, select the city or town where you would like to live. Click on the “housing” section at the top of the Craigslist page to obtain the apartment and house leasing information. To streamline your efforts, add the rental range.
Reentry Programs in Massachusetts
The best way to begin any housing search is to review the reentry listings for Massachusetts that have been compiled by the JobsForFelonsHub.com site. You can also obtain transitional housing options through these programs while you are looking for a permanent place to stay.
The Massachusetts Religious Community
You can also inquire about housing leads by talking to your local pastor or contacting organizations that are faith-based. You might also think about working as a volunteer for a community-based organization. You can obtain leads for jobs and rentals through this venue as well.
Referrals From Friends and Family
Families and friends can also give you job and housing references. Just don’t ask the people who are close to you to lease an apartment on your behalf. If a landlord finds out that you are living as a “tenant” in an apartment but your name is not on the lease, you can get evicted or sued.
Additional Felon Housing Search Tips
Making Your Transition Work
While some felons look at transitioning from prison life to be a stressful time, others use it as an opportunity to better themselves and look forward to the future. Start the house search process then by looking your best. Stop at the local thrift store to pick out a professional wardrobe. Next, schedule several appointments to look at house rentals or apartments. If you are dressed professionally, it will make it easier to communicate in a business-like manner as well.
Stick to A Routine
Once you obtain a rental, make sure you stick to a normal schedule. That means going to work each day or planning a day looking for jobs in the mainstream. If you need more education to obtain a certain job, inquire about the training. Refer to reentry listings and ask family and friends to assist you in your job search or educational activities. This is a time in your life when you can use your second chance to make a new and more productive life for yourself.