Finding housing for felons in Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania, 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 Pennsylvania that will help you in your pursuit of felon friendly housing.
Felon Friendly Apartments in Pennsylvania
When you are released from prison, you can find a support system through the reentry listings for Pennsylvania that has been compiled by the Jobs for Felons site. Our website is designed to be a one-stop source of information that will help you reintegrate successfully into society. Temporary housing sources, some of which include substance abuse counseling and help, can also be accessed by clicking on the following link.
Making Plans for Reentry into Pennsylvania
When making plans for your reintegration into Pennsylvania, it is important to be organized. That means writing down the things you need to do in order to successfully reintegrate into society. Some of the following items should be part of your reentry checklist.
· Schedule an appointment to obtain temporary housing.
· Call the local HUD office to set an appointment to obtain a permanent place to live.
· Contact area training programs about employment.
· Ask about food stamps. (The TransitionalHousing.org site offers food stamp assistance.) The site can also be referenced about sources for medical assistance and low income housing.
· Shop for professional clothing to wear when searching for employment or an apartment – look at the clothes displayed in thrift stores or in discount retail stores.
· Schedule an appointment for substance abuse counseling.
Temporary Housing in Pennsylvania
If you need a transitional residence while you look for a permanent place to live, then refer to the reentry listings on this site or follow the link to TransitionalHousing.org. This website presents thousands of residences in Pennsylvania and elsewhere in the US that provide a transitional place to live for felons and other people in need. Many of the homes offer assistance for people with current and previous substance abuse problems. Applicants can sign up for housing for two weeks to two years, depending on a program’s offerings.
Other Pennsylvania Housing Resources
Besides contacting the previously mentioned resource, you should also make an appointment to speak to a HUD (Housing of Urban Development) counselor or your local housing authority. HUD works in cooperation with local housing authorities and agencies to assist felons and low-income individuals obtain subsidized housing.
The apartment rental program, offered through HUD, compares an applicant’s means of support with the AMI or an area’s annual median income. In some cases, you can obtain free housing if your income level is exceedingly low.
However, don’t refer to HUD or your local housing authority if your felony charge involves the making and selling of methamphetamine or you are registered as a sex offender. Instead, you will need to go through the Department of Corrections and its reentry program to seek advice concerning housing. HUD will not work with felons with the above-mentioned charges.
Besides, HUD you can also visit Craigslist for housing leads or contact local churches or faith-based agencies.
Don’t Begin Your Search at A Large Apartment Community
It is important you follow the above recommendations when searching for a permanent place to live as large property management companies regularly turn down felons who apply to their communities. If you want to avoid disappointment then, forego submitting an application to a large apartment complex.
Get a Copy of Your Criminal History
You will need your criminal history if you wish to proceed with a housing search. The record can be obtained for a very minimal fee and will enable you to better negotiate lease terms or help you obtain transitional housing while you search for a permanent residence. You can proceed with the process by clicking on this link.
Why Felons Are Routinely Denied Housing in Pennsylvania and the US
Felons have a hard time obtaining housing in Pennsylvania and the rest of the country because legislators have not addressed this subject. Therefore, a property manager is in their legal right to deny a felon housing if he or she believes they pose a potential threat to the community.
According to the Fair Housing Act in the US, refusing housing to an applicant is only considered illegal if the denial is based on the applicant’s ethnicity, race, disability, sex, national origin, religion or family status. In some instances, gender and age are also added to the list. The list, in and of itself, relates to a federally protected class of people who can dispute a property owner’s decision for denying them a place to live. The decision is based more on prejudice than it is on any business reason or fact. For a landlord to be fair, he or she must treat all applicants the same.
With that being said, it is considered legal for a landlord in Pennsylvania and elsewhere in the US to refuse housing to rental applicants whose leasing history is beset by a series of evictions or non-payment of rent. He or she can also deny housing to applicants whose credit score is poor.
Anytime a landlord makes a decision that is based on a person’s ethnicity, sex, race, disability, religion, national origin or family status, then the decision is considered illegal. The US Housing Act stipulates that all housing applicants must be treated equitably and similarly, which refers to felons as a group. Therefore, it is alright to turn down felons as a group as long as the basis for the denial does not extend to a protected classification. You can obtain further information about illegally based discrimination by visiting NOLO online.
The Housing Law in Pennsylvania
Property managers in Pennsylvania must obey the anti-discrimination laws when renting apartments and make sure the housing is livable. They also must be able to produce a written lease agreement and know and follow the steps necessitated for evicting residents. When housing discrimination is considered illegal, the landlord’s own bias comes into play. For a denial to be considered legal, the decision must be based on an applicant’s leasing history or credit rating.
Illegal discrimination can take the form of arbitrary discrimination as well. If a landlord rents an apartment to a felon but refuses to rent to you and you also have a criminal background, you can take the landlord to court. This form of discrimination is arbitrary and therefore is not considered equitable in the eyes of the law. You can learn more about arbitrary discrimination by clicking on this link.
Pennsylvania Housing Authority
Along with HUD in Pennsylvania and local housing authorities, you can also obtain information about securing permanent housing through the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency. The PHFA works at providing affordable rental apartment options for low-and-moderate income families, seniors, and people with special housing requirements. Through the agency’s carefully overseen investments in housing developments and mortgage programs, economic development is encouraged and promoted within the state.
The PHFA, which was created by the state legislature in 1972, has been able to generate over $12.5 billion in funding for almost 165,000 single-family mortgage loans and helped fund the building of around 130,000 rental units.
If you go through HUD in Pennsylvania or a local housing authority, a housing subsidy is paid by the agency or HUD to the property manager on the tenant’s behalf. The tenant, in turn, pays the difference between the lease amount and what was paid as a subsidy.
If you were not involved in a felony that involved the making and selling of drugs, particularly methamphetamine, or was not charged with a sex offense, you need to visit a local HUD office or related agency soon after your release from prison. While you may not be able to move into an apartment right away, you can sign up on a waiting list. The sooner you schedule a time to talk to a HUD representative, the sooner you will be able to secure a permanent place to live.
Pennsylvania Apartment Listings on Craigslist
You can also find Craigslist to be a valuable resource when looking for an apartment. Most of the posters on the website are smaller property managers and therefore are not as strict about their housing or rental requirements. As a result, they tend to be more accommodating to applicants. In order to access the Craigslist site for Pennsylvania, begin by following this link. Next, click on the site or town in which you wish to live. After you access the city or town, click on the “housing” section at the top of the page. Once you click on this section, narrow your choices by inserting the rental range.
Reentry Programs in Pennsylvania
Begin looking for apartments and jobs by taking a look at the listings for Pennsylvania that have been compiled by the Jobs for Felons site. Review the data and contact the sources so you can remain active in your employment and housing searches and can stay up-to-date with newly listed leads.
The Pennsylvania Religious Community
You can also garner information for jobs or apartment rentals by contacting local faith-based organizations or churches. If you are a current member of a local church, ask the pastor about any housing leads or employment vacancies. You can also obtain information by volunteering in community-based agencies.
Referrals From Friends and Family
Friends and family can also help you find housing or search for a job. However, do not ask a close friend or family member to sign a rental contract on your behalf. Doing so can get you into legal trouble – something you definitely want to avoid. Legally, your name must be included as a rental occupant. Otherwise, a property manager can have you evicted or you could get sued.
Additional Felon Housing Search Tips
Wear Professional-looking Clothes
Whether you dress casually or formally, you need to look professional. Therefore, make sure your apparel looks professional and that you are neat and presentable. You can make low-cost selections in professional clothing by visiting a thrift shop or discount retail store.
Establish a Business-like Rapport
By wearing professional clothing, you will also feel more confident when you communicate. Focus on being professional and learn not to take any comments or remarks personally. Concentrate establishing a business-like rapport.
Review the Reentry Programs for Pennsylvania
Look over the reentry programs that are compiled for Pennsylvania on our website. Try to maintain ongoing and regular contact with the agencies so you can reintegrate into the mainstream without difficulty.
Stay Committed and Focused on Your Housing or Job Search
Make it your goal to stay committed and focused on your housing or job search. If you are not happy about the outcome of a search, try to remain objective. Stay positive and persevere and you will realize both your job and housing objectives.