Finding housing for felons in Vermont 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 Vermont, 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 Vermont that will help you in your pursuit of felon friendly housing.
Felon Friendly Apartments in Vermont
Adjusting to reintegration can be a challenge. Therefore, it is helpful to know who to contact to help you restart your life outside of prison. To assist in the process, the Jobs for Felons Hub site has created reentry listings for Vermont that can help you find housing, job training and employment. This broad list will help you in your search for both permanent and transitional residences as well as enable you to pick up job references and leads. You can also find temporary housing and other kinds of aid, such as substance abuse counseling, by clicking on this link.
Re-entering the Mainstream in Vermont
Whether you are trying to locate a permanent place to live or are seeking a job, you need to develop an action plan. Therefore, it is important to create a to-do list to enable you to go forward with your housing or job search. The following to-do items are some suggestions that can help you begin and accomplish your objectives.
· Contact social service organizations or online sources about temporary housing.
· Schedule an appointment with HUD or a local housing authority about subsidized permanent housing.
· Inquire about getting food stamps.
· Contact job training programs.
· Buy professional clothing for housing and employment searches at discount retail stores or area thrift stores.
· Obtain a criminal history.
· Ask about receiving substance abuse counseling and help, if necessary.
Transitional Housing in Vermont
To obtain temporary in Vermont, you can click on this link for help. The link leads to transitionalhousing.org, which is the largest base for transitional housing programs all over the US. Many listings on the site also provide residents with substance abuse counseling and help. Housing is available for two weeks to two years, depending on the program’s services. Refer to the reentry listings for Vermont at this site for additional assistance as well.
Other Vermont Housing Resources
Besides looking for housing at the above-mentioned sites, you can also contact the US Housing of Urban Development, better known as HUD, to obtain a listing of local housing authorities that assist people in need. These agencies work to help applicants find affordable and subsidized housing through a Section 8 voucher program.
The subsidized voucher program through HUD allows people to find and settle into housing based on an applicant’s income and the area median income for a locale. The housing authority pays the subsidized amount for the applicant and the applicant pays the remainder of the rent. If the income is extremely low, then the housing may be free in some instances. Other housing sources can be obtained by looking on Craigslist or by contacting a faith-based social service agency or church.
Don’t Apply for an Apartment in a Large Apartment Complex
To avoid any frustration during your housing search, avoid applying at a large apartment community. Large apartment communities are also run by big properties management firms that make it a policy not to rent to felons. So, if you want to prevent disappointment, stick to those sources that are more felon-friendly.
Obtain Your Own Criminal Background
Before you begin making contacts, obtain your criminal history. Having the record in tow will help you better negotiate leases and back up your qualifications for obtaining transitional housing. You can obtain a copy of your criminal history by accessing this link.
Why Felons Are Often Refused Rental Apartments in Vermont and the US
Once you get out of prison, a housing search is more difficult as the laws in Vermont and the US do not offer leniency to felons seeking a place to live. If a landlord in Vermont or elsewhere in the country feels a felon may pose a possible threat to their community, they are in their legal right to refuse the felon’s application for housing. It does not matter if you have been just released or have been out for some time, this attitude prevails in larger rental communities.
In accordance with the Fair Housing Act in the US, discrimination is termed illegal when a landlord denies the rental application of an applicant, based on their disability, ethnicity, sex, national origin, family status or race. Age and gender, in some places, are also included in this assessment.
The above listing represents a federally protected category of people – individuals who are in their right to sue a property manager if they cannot rent an apartment due to the landlord’s bias. Property managers in Vermont and elsewhere in the US are required, by law, to only turn down an applicant based on a business or legal reason, not from prejudice.
Therefore, a property manager can refuse to rent an apartment to applicants whose rental history includes non-payments or evictions. They can also refuse a rental application if the applicant’s credit rating is bad. Each applicant who applies for an apartment or house must be treated equitably and fairly.
A property manager in Vermont or in other parts of the US who denies rental housing because of an applicant’s religion, ethnicity, race, familial status, sex, disability or national origin is illegally discriminating against an applicant. However, landlords can refuse to rent to felons as long as the refusal is not associated with one of the previously mentioned classifications. You can review the consequences of illegal discrimination by referring to NOLO online.
The Housing Law in Vermont
Anyone who rents properties in Vermont must follow anti-discrimination policies and know how to draw up a leasing agreement. They also must be able to provide housing that is considered safe and habitable per the Quality Standards that have been established through fair housing laws.
Property managers must also understand the eviction process. The US Fair Housing Act emphasizes the importance of making rental decisions that are fair to all applicants. That means, again, any housing refusal must be based on a business or legal reason, not because of preference or prejudice.
Illegal discrimination often takes the form of arbitrary discrimination when a preference is shown for one housing applicant over another potential renter. For instance, if a property manager rents an apartment to one felon but denies the application of another felon, he or she can end up in court. All felons applying at a complex must be treated the same legally. Unless a felon’s conviction is associated with being a part of a federally protected class, they must be treated like their counterparts. You can review arbitrary discrimination further by referring to this link.
Vermont Housing Authority
The Vermont State Housing Authority (VSHA) has the noted distinction of being the oldest or first housing authority in the country. This agency works in collaboration with HUD in Vermont and supports the work of other public housing authorities in the state. Eleven PHAs in Vermont currently help felons and others in need in search of housing.
Specifically, the Section 8 Housing Voucher program offers rental help for families and individuals who are looking for affordable, decent and safe housing. With funding supplied by HUD and administered by the VSHA and local public housing authorities, the subsidized housing program makes use of privately owned and existing housing stock.
The elderly, families, single people and the disabled, whose income falls within HUD income guidelines, can qualify for this program. After an individual applies and is deemed to be eligible, they are added to a waiting list until the funds can be accessed. When the funding becomes available, a voucher is issued to pay for a portion of the rental amount.
A certificate or voucher is a written guarantee made by the VSHA or local housing authority to the prospective landlord and tenant that the holder of the voucher can participate in the Section 8 program. The holder uses the voucher to locate a house or apartment of their choosing. In turn, the Section 8 certificate sets forth the holder’s obligations under the program as well as how long an applicant has for locating a house or apartment.
In Vermont, the VSHA also administers a Moderate Rehabilitation program and Project-based Voucher program, both of which are designed for project-specific units rather than open-market real estate. The tenants are chosen from a current waiting list. The subsidy, in this case, is attached to the unit instead of the composition, size and income of a family. As a result, if an individual or family leaves a Moderate Rehabilitation unit or Project-based Voucher apartment and still needs to have a subsidy, they have to reapply under a different program.
The area median income that is used for calculating individual need divides the distribution of a locale’s income in two equal parts – 50% of the cases are above the median income for an area and 50% of the applicants are below the area median income or AMI. HUD uses the AMI to calculate the income limits for eligibility in its Section 8 housing program.
The agency estimates the AMI for a specific location in the current year and then reconciles the amount for various sizes of families. In turn, the incomes are presented as a percentage of the AMI. Therefore, the criteria for eligibility in a HUD program is based on the applicant’s income, composition and size of household and their citizenship status. Childcare costs and medical expenses are included in the assessment as well.
If you have completed your sentence and have been released from prison, you should contact HUD, the VSHA or your local housing authority immediately. The sooner you make an appointment, the sooner you can settle into a permanent residence. If your felony involved the making and selling of methamphetamine or was a sex offense, obtain housing information through the reentry program at your correctional facility or contact one of the reentry programs listed on the reentry listing on this site. HUD does not work with felons with either of the two aforementioned charges and convictions.
Subsidized rentals that are HUD-sponsored include single-family houses, mobile homes, townhomes and apartments. Any housing obtained through HUD must be both safe and sanitary as established by HUD’s HSQs or Housing Quality Standards.
Vermont Apartment Listings on Craigslist
Apartment and house listings can be viewed on Craigslist too. Because the posters on the site are usually independent property managers, your chances of securing housing are much easier. In order to take a look at the current offerings, access Craigslist for Vermont by clicking on this link. Once you are on the page, click on the “housing” section that is featured at the top. Enter the rental range to short-list your selections.
Reentry Programs in Vermont
You can always refer to the reentry listings for Vermont at any time. You are also welcome to join the Jobs for Felons Hub Facebook page with any housing or employment concerns. The Jobs for Felons Hub site’s mission is to make sure that felons receive the housing and jobs they need so they can become effective and productive members of the mainstream.
The Vermont Religious Community
You can also obtain assistance for housing or jobs through the religious community in Vermont. If you are currently a member of a local Vermont church, ask members of the congregation or the pastor for employment or housing references. Job and housing leads can also be obtained through contacting faith-based community service agencies.
Referrals From Friends and Family
Discuss your housing or employment needs with family and friends as well. They can be a source for references or leads. However, never ask a friend or family member to sign a leasing agreement on your behalf. Your name must be added as an occupant on the rental contract. Otherwise, you stand a good chance of being evicted or sued.
Additional Felon Housing Search Tips
Dress to Succeed
In order to succeed in any job or housing search, you need to be well-dressed. You don’t have to drop a large amount of money at a shopping mall to look professional and presentable. You can buy some nice name brand clothes at local thrift stores or discount retailers. Some thrift stores can part with the clothes for almost next to nothing. You might also ask about a donation of clothing from a family member or a friend.
Looking professional also means communicating professionally. Show your interest in the apartment or job in which you are applying. Maintain a business-like demeanor and rapport.
Contact the Programs that Listed Reentry Listings for Vermont
Contact or stay in contract with the programs on the reentry listings for Vermont that are featured on the Jobs for Felons Hub website. Stay on top of your housing and job search activities by maintaining an ongoing rapport with reentry contacts.
Follow a Routine
While some people think following a routine is getting into a rut, this type of rut is a good rut, especially if it leads to obtaining an apartment and a job. Make your search of these two important goals in life an ongoing routine and you will happily reach your objectives.