Finding housing for felons in Virginia 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 Virginia, 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 Virginia that will help you in your pursuit of felon friendly housing.
Felon Friendly Apartments in Virginia
When you are released from prison, you have to prepare yourself for successful reentry. In order to do so, you need the contacts and resources needed in order to succeed. To help with the process, the Jobs for Felons Hub website has created reentry listings for Virginia. This helpful and comprehensive resource will help you in your search for both transitional and permanent housing as well as enable you to access job training and employment. You can find transitional housing as well as other kinds of assistance, as well, by clicking on this link.
Reintegrating Yourself in the Mainstream in Virginia
Whether you are looking for a job or seeking a place to stay, you need to develop a to-do list to accomplish your objectives. By creating this kind of checklist, you can go forward more easily in your employment or housing search. The following to-do items are some suggestions that can help you proceed with more confidence.
· Contact transitional housing resources online and by phone.
· Schedule an appointment with HUD or a HUD-based public agency about obtaining subsidized permanent housing.
· Inquire about getting food stamps.
· Contact local area training programs.
· Buy professional clothes for housing and job searches at discount retail stores or local thrift stores. Ask friends or families about any clothing or accessories they can donate as well.
· Obtain a criminal history check.
· Make an appointment to receive substance abuse counseling, if needed.
Transitional Housing in Virginia
Transitional housing in Virginia can be obtained by clicking on the transitionalhousing.org site. Listings on the site offer temporary housing for people in need all over the US. Many of the programs feature help and assistance for people with substance abuse issues as well. You can also reference the reentry listings for Virginia for temporary housing leads.
Other Virginia Housing Resources
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development also works with felons in Virginia and elsewhere in the US in their housing initiatives. Local housing authorities connected with HUD can be accessed in Virginia that enable felons and others find subsidized and affordable apartments and dwellings.
However, HUD does not work with all felons. If your charge involved the making and selling of methamphetamine or you were convicted of a sex offense, you need to refer your housing concerns to the reentry program at the correctional facility where you were released. You can also contact one of the applicable reentry programs listed on our site.
The rental program offered by HUD allows people to obtain apartments, single-family dwellings or mobile homes based on their town’s or city’s annual median income or AMI. The housing authority pays the subsidized amount for the apartment or other dwelling and the applicant covers the remaining rental amount. If an income is exceptionally low, the housing may be acquired for free. Craigslist, local faith-based agencies and churches also can be resourced for housing or job information.
Don’t Apply for an Apartment in a Bigger Virginia Apartment Community
If you don’t want to feel frustrated when initiating an apartment search, don’t start by looking at rentals in a bigger apartment community. Big communities are operated by big property management companies and therefore regularly turn down felons. Instead, follow the recommendations above in order to obtain housing.
Obtain Your Own Criminal History Check
You will increase your ability to obtain a temporary shelter if you present the proper documentation. In order to facilitate the process, you need to retain your criminal history. This important piece of paperwork will also enable you to negotiate lease terms and show landlords that you are committed to beginning any lease relationship by being upfront and honest. You can obtain a copy of your criminal history by connecting with this link.
Why Felons Are Refused Rental Homes in Virginia and the US
Once you are charged with a felony, you pretty much give up your right to lease an apartment with any type of ease. Currently, no legal statutes have been established that support a felon’s efforts to rent a property. However, if a property manager feels you may pose a threat to his or her community, they can turn down your application.
The US Fair Housing Act declares that discrimination is considered against the law when a landlord does not rent an apartment or similar dwelling because of an applicant’s disability, ethnicity, national origin, sex, family status or religion.
This type of list is representative of a federally protected class, or people who can sue a property manager if their rights are violated when seeking rental housing. Property managers in Virginia and the rest of the US cannot, by law, deny housing to an applicant unless it is based on business criteria, including liability. Therefore, an applicant can be turned down if they are a felon, have a poor credit score or have issues, such as evictions and non-payments, in their rental history.
Leasing managers in Virginia and the US, who deny rental housing to an applicant, based on their race, religion, ethnicity, family status, sex, or disability are going against the US Fair Housing law. They can therefore be held legally accountable if they base a rental decision on bias rather than the applicant’s rental or criminal history. You can read more details about illegal discrimination by accessing NOLO online.
The Housing Law in Virginia
Landlords in Virginia are required to follow the anti-discrimination statutes that have been put in place by the US Fair Housing Act. Managers must know how to draw up a lease agreement for housing that is both safe and habitable. They also need to know what measures to take to evict a tenant. Because the US Fair Housing Act emphasizes the importance of making leasing decisions that are equitable and fair, any denial must be based on fact versus prejudice.
Landlords can get into trouble legally if they practice arbitrary discrimination. When making a decision to rent an apartment to an applicant, a landlord cannot show preference over one potential tenant in a group over another applicant. For instance, if the property manager leases to one felon but denies another felon housing, they can be sued for arbitrary discrimination or illegal leasing practices. All felons should be treated the same according to the law. You can gain more information about arbitrary discrimination by clicking on this link.
Virginia Housing Authority
In Virginia, you can refer to the Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA) about your permanent, subsidized rental needs. The site offers reference information that will help you find affordable housing that matches your residential requirements. The VHDA works in conjunction with HUD in Virginia to assist felons and people in need find an established residence. The listed rentals are designed to help people whose income is 80% or below the AMI, or area median income – a calculation that has been instituted by HUD.
In addition, in Virginia, there are 44 local housing authorities that offer renters Section 8 housing or a voucher to secure an apartment or similar dwelling. The housing authorities own and run an aggregate of public housing units and issue Section 8 rental vouchers for these units as well. Of these 44 housing authorities, almost 60% have both a Section 8 and public housing program. The largest housing authority in the state, by the number of managed housing assistance units, is the VHDA, which has 9,534 managed units and the same number of Section 8 vouchers.
Therefore, anyone who wishes to obtain housing in Virginia is encouraged to schedule an appointment with their local housing authority and apply for subsidized Section 8 housing assistance. The public housing authorities in the state and the VHDA administer the Housing Choice Voucher Section 8 program to people whose yearly gross income does not go over 50% of the income guidelines that have been set by HUD. HUD requires that 75% of new applicants be at 30% or below the AMI. That is good news for applicants, such as felons, who are seeking affordable housing and a clean and habitable place to live.
Eligibility in a HUD program is based on the median family income of the applicant, the composition and size of the household and the applicant’s citizenship status. Expenses for childcare and medical care are also factored into the calculation. Subsidized housing under HUD includes apartments, mobile homes, single-family dwelling and townhomes. The residences need to meet the Housing Quality Standards set forth by Fair Housing initiatives.
Virginia Apartment Listings on Craigslist
In Virginia, you can also search Craigslist for apartments and rentals. Because the posters on the site are generally real estate entrepreneurs, they are less restrictive in making rental decisions. In order to look at the current rental choices on the Virginia Craigslist site, you need to follow this link. Next, choose the city or town where you wish to reside and click on the “housing” listing at the top of the following page. Narrow down your choices by adding the rental range.
Reentry Programs in Virginia
Take some time and review the reentry listings for Virginia that have been compiled by the Jobs for Felons Hub website and join us on Facebook with your employment or housing concerns. You can count on our support for finding a job or apartment.
The Virginia Religious Community
The Virginia religious community can also be resourced for employment or housing needs. If you are presently a member of a local church in Virginia, ask members of the congregation or your pastor for any information concerning job or housing leads. You can also obtain similar information through social, faith-based agencies.
Referrals From Friends and Family
Discuss your housing and job search concerns with friends and family. However, just make sure you never ask a family member or close friend to sign a lease agreement on your behalf. You need to be on the lease and listed as an occupant. Otherwise, you could face the possibility of getting evicted or sued.
Additional Felon Housing Search Tips
If you want to succeed in your job or housing search, make sure you are dressed professionally. Drop by the local thrift store for professional-looking apparel or put together a wardrobe by visiting a discount retailer.
Maintain a Professional Rapport
Maintain professional communications with an interviewer or leasing agent. Steer clear of taking certain comments personally. Your goal is to maintain a rapport that is business-like and professional.
Contact the Programs Included in the Reentry Listings for Virginia
Contact the programs that are featured for the reentry listings for Virginia that are presented on our site. Stay focused and committed on getting a permanent place to live and long-term employment.
Follow a Routine
Stay on top of your job or housing search by following a routine. Even if you have not yet obtained a job or permanent place to live, follow a regular schedule. Doing so will keep you on track with your plans and goals.