Finding housing for felons in Montana 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 Montana, 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 Montana that will help you in your pursuit of felon friendly housing.
Felon Friendly Apartments in Montana
If you are just about to be released from prison or have been released from prison and are seeking housing, job training or a job, then you will want to refer to the reentry programs for Montana that has been created by the JobsForFelonsHub.com site. The Montana reentry listings will enable you to streamline your search for an apartment or employment. Some of the programs are designed to help felons with substance abuse problems as well.
To make your search for employment or a rental more successful, you need to look at the reentry programs that can help you in this respect. Reentering society can be positive if you use these important resources. Refer to the listing on the JobsForFelonsHub.com site to get you back on track and re-integrated into the mainstream.
Transitional Housing and Drug Rehab Offerings
Besides taking a closer look at the reentry listings for Montana, you also want to refer to the listings for traditional housing at TransitionalHousing.org. This site is made up of 5,500+ transitional housing options. Both homes and shelter are featured. Some of the homes are focused on helping felons with drug abuse histories. You can stay at a residence for a specific time period – one that runs from two weeks to as high as two years long.
Other Montana Housing Resources
Other Montana housing resources include the rentals that are listed through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in Montana as well as Craigslist. Both local housing authorities in the state and HUD coordinate their efforts to locate apartments that meet a felon’s housing requirements.
Participating communities accept vouchers or discounts for rentals based on the annual median income or AMI for an area. Housing experts recommend that felons schedule an appointment with HUD right away to ensure their housing needs are met. If you have a felony charge that involves the manufacture and sale of methamphetamines or a sex offense, then you will have to refer to your DOC’s reentry program. HUD will not extend its services to felons with these felonies.
According to the Los Angeles Times, about 12 million felons are living in the prison system currently and around 600,000 felons are released yearly, thereby making up 8% of the working class. Therefore, a felon living in Montana or elsewhere in the US is not exactly alone in their search for a house or a job. That is why it is essential that you refer to the reentry listings that are featured on this site as they are more felon-friendly than mainstream apartment communities.
Bypass Applying at a Large Apartment Complex
Don’t apply at large apartment complexes as your background check will be run, and your application will be denied. Always refer to those resources that are willing to help felons transition into the mainstream. Unless an established apartment community works with HUD, you don’t want to put in an application.
Perform a Background Check on Yourself
In order to start a rental search, you first need to perform a background check on yourself. Doing so will only take a couple minutes and you are only assessed a small fee. Use the information so you can state your situation to landlords or show why you are interested in transitional housing. Get started on the background check by following this link.
Why Felons Are Denied Housing in Montana and the Rest of the US
After you are charged with a felony and serve time, you will find that searching for a rental can be quite a challenge. Legislators have not enacted any bill that would make it illegal to turn down a rental to felon, especially if their crime is considered to be a potential threat to a community. Unless the denial extends to one of the protected classes listed in the Fair Housing Act, your felony record will make renting an apartment difficult.
Property owners and managers in Montana and the other US states can also legally discriminate against applicants based on their rental record (non-payments and/or evictions) and their credit score. If the discrimination involves a property owner’s personal prejudice, then that is when the practice becomes illegal and unfair.
Taking a Look at Illegal Discrimination
Montana has a lot to say about illegal discrimination as it relates to the housing community and human rights. According to the Montana Human Rights Act, discrimination is prohibited in housing based on a person’s protected class.
Montana Fair Housing (MFH) investigates discrimination complaints associated with housing as well as counsels victims. The agency also helps victims secure legal representation when filing a complaint is necessary. MFH provides dispute resolution services upon request as well.
According to the Fair Housing Act, in its amended form, and the Montana Human Rights Act, federally protected classes are represented by one’s race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, disability, and familial status (including children under the age of majority (18) and pregnancy). In addition to the protected classes, the Montana Human Rights Act adds creed, age and marital status to the listings.
Federal and state anti-discrimination legislation covers most business transactions related to the purchase, sale and rental of real estate. In some instances, however, the law exempts owner-occupied residences that contain no more than four units (or 2 units in Montana), single-family type housing that is rented or sold without a broker and housing that is operated by organizations or private clubs that prohibit occupancy to anyone outside its membership.
Montana law does not allow property managers to take any of the following listed actions against an applicant based on their ethnicity, race, national origin, sex, religion, family status or disability, nor their age, creed or marital status –
· Deny to sell or rent housing
· Refuse to negotiate for an apartment or home
· Make housing unavailable
· Establish different privileges, conditions or terms for the sale or rental of a house or apartment
· Provide different facilities or housing services
· Deny, falsely, that a house or apartment is available for rent, sale or inspection
· Try to profit from persuading owners to rent or sell their real estate
· Deny membership into a facility or access to a service, such as a multiple listing service, that is associated with the sales or rental of real estate
You can read more about Montana’ stance on illegal discriminatory housing practices by clicking on this link. Therefore, discrimination becomes unfair when a property owner in Montana denies a rental to an applicant based, generally, on their sex, race, ethnicity, family status, national origin, disability, creed, marital status or age.
If you are a felon, for example, whose felony charge of illegal drug use resulted from a physical or mental disability, you can actually go ahead and apply for an apartment in a larger apartment complex. That is because the felony charge results from your being part of a protected class (disability). Therefore, a property owner could get sued, in this case, if he or she did not rent you housing.
However, that being said, this type of incidence is a rare exception. In most cases, you will be denied housing as the result of your conviction unless the charge is 10+ years old and was of a non-violent nature. Otherwise, the search, at times, can become discouraging if you don’t apply to those programs that are designed to help a felon succeed in society. That is why it is better to look at listings on Craigslist or set up an appointment with your local housing authority or HUD office. You can get a better understanding about illegal housing practices by clicking on NOLO online.
How Felons Are Affected by Housing Constraints
Discrimination is not a broad-brushed definition as it can be considered fair or unfair. If discrimination is unfair, or considered against the law, then it is based on a decision that was made against a federally protected class. In Montana, those classes, once again, are ethnicity, race, sex, disability, national origin, family status and race as well as creed, age and marital status. Most apartment complexes turn down a felon based on their criminal history.
How Arbitrary Discrimination Affects Applicants
Therefore, property owners can refuse felons a rental as long as the decision is not related to a protected class. These rules make it possible for applicants to be treated more fairly when searching for a place to live. By law, a property manager cannot base a rental decision on prejudice but must make sure the decision is equitable for all the parties.
As a result, it is legal for a property manager to turn down an applicant based on their criminal history, past rental record (evictions and non-payments of rent) or credit score. You can find out more about arbitrary discrimination by following this link.
Montana Housing Authority
The Montana Housing Division has been established so that Montanans can rent affordable homes. You can also access information along these lines by referring to HUD in Montana, which helps renters get into apartments that meet with their budgets and residential expectations.
Set up an appointment with your local housing authority or HUD when you are released from prison to ensure that you can get into an apartment as soon as possible. If a move-in unit is not ready, you will need to sign up on a waiting list. Don’t put off scheduling an appointment as the sooner you consult with an agency, the sooner you can settle into a permanent residence.
Montana Apartment Listings on Craigslist
Montana’s Craigslist is an ideal site from which to obtain information about a rental home or apartment. Most of the listings are generated by real estate owners or small property management companies. Therefore, the rental requirements generally are less strict. Some of the advertisers don’t even do a background check. However, even if they do, they make it easier for you to communicate with them.
To review the rental listings for Montana on Craigslist, start by clicking on this link. Once you click on the link, choose the city or town of your choice, then click on the “housing” section displayed at the top of the page. Narrow down the search by adding your rental range. Just make sure the range is by the month and not by the week.
Reentry Programs in Montana
The reentry programs for Montana that have been compiled by the JobsForFelonsHub.com site are a valuable resource. Refer to them regularly as you make the transition back into the mainstream.
The Montana Religious Community
You can also find housing and job leads through church-based programs or faith-based organizations. If you are the member of a church, ask your pastor about any job or housing leads when seeking employment or a rental.
Referrals From Friends and Family
Friends and families can also inspire you while you are searching for a place to live. However, don’t ask any close relative or friend to sign a rental agreement on your behalf. Legally, your name has to be on the lease. Otherwise, you can get evicted or sued.
Additional Felon Housing Search Tips
Look and Act Professional
Stop by the local thrift store for slightly used professional attire and maintain a professional demeanor. To be taken seriously and to show you are committed, you have to look the part. Therefore, begin the process by buying professional clothes – both traditional and casual styles.
Develop a Good Rapport
If you are professional in your appearance, it will also help you to communicate professionally. You want to develop a business-like rapport with a property owner or leasing agent. Doing so will enable you to find a permanent residence – one that you can stay at for a long time.
Refer to Reentry Programs
Check out the reentry programs that are listed by the JobsForFelonsHub.com site. They should be regularly reviewed and contacted as you make the transition back into society.
Establish an Ongoing Routine
Whether you are in temporary or permanent housing, make sure to follow a daily and ongoing routine. It does not matter if you are obtaining job training, seeking a job or working, keeping to a daily schedule will also keep you on track.