Finding housing for felons in New Jersey 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 New Jersey, 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 New Jersey that will help you in your pursuit of felon friendly housing.
Felon Friendly Apartments in New Jersey
Stepping back into the mainstream does not have to be a concern if you are well-equipped with sources for reentry programs in New Jersey. You can find them, here, on our website as well as at this link, which offers an even more extensive listing. The referenced lists of programs at each site makes it possible for felons to obtain the job search and housing information they need to re-enter the mainstream. Some of the programs also feature substance abuse counseling and assistance.
When you refer to reentry listings, you can short-list your choices for temporary housing and get into the employment mart more easily. Refer to all of the reentry listings and visit our site frequently to stay current on New Jersey rental and employment support and leads.
Making a Determination about Your Reentry Needs
Reentry programs allow felons to obtain the help they require to socially reintegrate into society. To encourage reentry and focus on your housing and job search goals, you need to make a checklist of what you need to do. This checklist should include the following objectives, if applicable:
· Obtain temporary housing
· Contact HUD, if applicable, about a permanent rental
· Receive job training for a specific job
· Contact the area One-Stop or county health department about getting food stamps
· Visit the local thrift store to choose professional attire for job and house searches
· Obtain medical coverage
· Set up an appointment with substance abuse counselor
Featured Reentry Program in New Jersey – Transition Professionals
One of the featured reentry programs on the Jobs For Felons Hub site is Transition Professionals. The organization offers assistance in job search and resume preparation, treatment and shelter referrals, court support and advocacy, social service and healthcare enrollment and drug and alcohol counseling. Financial and credit counseling is offered to felons as well.
A Transitional Housing Resource in New Jersey
Transitional housing that emphasizes counseling and support services (especially for alcohol and drug abuse) can be found through TransitionalHousing.org. The site is home to over 5,500 transitional residences. According to the site, felons and others in need can sign up to live at a transitional residence from two weeks to two years.
Other New Jersey Housing Resources
Besides referencing the reentry information on our site and the Pick Awareness blog, you can also seek rental information via the US Department of Housing and Urban Development in New Jersey, also commonly called HUD. Housing authorities in New Jersey and at HUD collaborate together to help felons find housing that can be acquired on limited incomes. HUD rentals make up a source of subsidized housing. In turn then, they make it possible for felons on a limited income or without an income to obtain rental housing with a voucher that discounts the regular rent.
By using the HUD vouchers, felons can obtain housing based on their own income and how it compares to the area’s annual median income or AMI. That is why it is important for felons who are looking for a rental to contact their local housing authority or New Jersey HUD office at their earliest convenience.
With that being said, you also need to be aware that HUD does not work with felons whose felony was associated with a sex offense or the manufacture and sale of methamphetamine. If you have been convicted of a felony for either of these offenses, you need to speak with reentry counselors in the Department of Corrections or a social agency for housing advice.
Don’t Apply at Major Apartment Communities in New Jersey
Do not spend time seeking a rental in a big apartment community. You will only set yourself up for disappointment. Instead, it is better to look at the reentry programs that are featured through the Jobs for Felons site or the Pick Awareness blog. Unless your felony is over 10 years old and was considered non-violent, most big apartment communities will deny your leasing application.
Check Your Own Criminal History
Before you start searching for an apartment, you will need to perform a criminal history check on yourself. The activity only takes a few minutes and the fee assessed is minimal. Use the details you obtain to help you negotiate a lease agreement or explain your circumstances to a property manager. The information can also be useful when you are looking for temporary or transitional housing. Obtain a history check now by following this link.
Why Felons Are Usually Denied Housing in Mainstream Communities
When you are known as a felon, some people may be leery about your past. Therefore, landlords have it in their right to deny you housing if they feel your presence might present a threat to their community. A denial to rent someone an apartment, instead, is against the law if it is against someone who is a part of a federal protected class. Protected classes include applicants who are refused a rental based on their national origin, religion, ethnicity, sex, family status, race or disability. In some cases, a protected class may include someone’s gender or age.
A property manager generally can legally discriminate against renting an apartment to a felon. He or she can also turn down applicants legally if the refusal is based on a history of non-payments for rent or evictions. Once the discrimination is based more on bias than fact, then the discrimination becomes illegal.
The website, NOLO online, elaborates on the practice of illegal discrimination further. According to the site, illegal discrimination is recognized when a property manager refuses to rent an apartment to an applicant, and bases the decision on their ethnicity, race, sex, disability, national origin or family status. However, a property manager can rent an apartment in New Jersey and elsewhere in the US if the felony was for drug abuse which stemmed from a mental or physical disability. Because a disability is a federally protected class, the applicant cannot be turned in this particular instance.
Still, most felons will be turned down as a general rule. Plus, it is likely that you will be denied housing if you apply to a large apartment complex. Unless you were convicted of a non-violent crime and your felony is at least 10 years old, you will find that renting in the mainstream can be challenging. To reduce the possibility that this will happen, focus on scheduling an appointment with your local housing authority or HUD or reviewing the listings on Craigslist – all of which tend to be more felon-friendly.
Rental Housing in New Jersey and the US
To determine whether a discriminatory practice is legal or illegal depends on how a property manager follows up on a leasing application. Again, he or she is guilty of discriminating illegally if they base a denial on an applicant’s national origin, ethnicity, race, religion, sex, disability or family status. Unless your charge extends to a protected class, you can legally be denied housing in New Jersey and the US.
Arbitrary Discriminatory Practices
The US Fair Housing Act states that a property manager can refuse to lease to felons as long as the discrimination is legal. Therefore, the decision cannot be made on bias or preference. Again, applicants are protected from any discrimination that is connected to the applicant’s disability, religion, ethnicity, race, national origin, sex or family status. As indicated, in some cases, the protection extends to age and gender too.
As a result, a property manager in New Jersey or elsewhere in the US can discriminate against an applicant if it is based on the applicant’s rental history or credit score. Any discrimination that is based on a manager’s bias is illegally discriminatory and unfair. You can obtain more details about arbitrary discrimination by following this link.
New Jersey Housing Authority
In New Jersey, you can access public housing agencies in New Jersey that work with HUD to provide felons and other similar applicants with affordable rental housing. Once you are released from prison, it is imperative to contact one of these agencies to ensure that you obtain a permanent rental unit. The sooner you do so, the sooner you will obtain a permanent place to live.
However, you will need to speak to the reentry program available through the Department of Corrections if you have served a sentence for the making and selling of methamphetamine or have been convicted of a sex offense. As stated previously, HUD or its affiliated partners will not work with felons who have been charged with these felonies.
New Jersey Apartment Listings on Craigslist
As noted, Craigslist is another valuable resource in your search for a permanent apartment. Many of the posters on the site are smaller property management companies or entrepreneurial by nature. Therefore, they are less stringent about their rental requirements. To review New Jersey’s listings, simply begin by following this link. Next, select “housing” at the top of the page and narrow your choices by adding the rental range.
Reentry Programs in New Jersey
Start your apartment and housing search by reviewing the comprehensive listing of reentry programs in New Jersey on our website and at this link,. Make full use of the information so you can find transitional housing and a job while you look for a permanent place to stay.
The New Jersey Religious Community
Other sources that are open to you are faith-based organizations and area churches. If you are a current member of a church, you can also inquire about jobs or rental leads through this means. Working as a community volunteer can also open you up to finding housing or employment leads.
Referrals From Friends and Family
Family and friends can also support you in your search for housing in New Jersey. However, don’t use your close friends or relatives to lease an apartment on your behalf. You could get into some very hot water. Your name has to be included on the lease. Otherwise, you could face an eviction or could get sued.
Additional Felon Housing Search Tips
Buy Professional Attire
In order to realize a successful rental search, you need to present yourself professionally. Therefore, take some time out and visit your local thrift store and buy some professional attire. Purchase some jackets, skirts, slacks, blouses or shirts to give you a decided edge.
Maintain a Professional Rapport
Also, while speaking to the owner, maintain a professional rapport. Show your interest in renting a house or apartment. Keep your communications professional in order to establish your credibility with the landlord.
Make Good Use of the Reentry Listings
Always refer to the reentry listings posted herein and make good use of them. They are meant to assist felons find a way to reintegrate back into society.
Follow a Regular Schedule
Whether you have leased an apartment yet or not, make sure you follow a regular itinerary and stay on track. Plan to schedule activities each day that will keep you moving forward toward becoming a contributing member of your community.