How Can Convicted Felons Live In Public Housing?

May 27th 2024
If you have a felony record, finding housing can be difficult. Landlords often run background checks when deciding whether they want an applicant as a tenant, and discrimination occurs all too often. However, even convicted felons can get public housing like section 8 if they meet certain requirements.

hash-markTable of Contents

Can Convincted Felons Live in Public Housing?
Section 8 HUD Housing for Convicted Felons
Finding an Apartment as a Felon
Public Housing For Convicted Felons Bottom Line

hash-markCan Convicted Felons Live in Public Housing?

Yes, convicted felons can live in public housing as long as they meet specific requirements. To qualify for Section 8 public housing a felony needs to be at least 5 years old, and it cannot be a disqualifying felony. Disqualifying felonies are typically related to violent crimes, drug trafficking, and sex crimes that would require the felon to register as a sex offender. 

The criminal charges that disqualify you from Section 8 are convictions related to manufacturing methamphetamine and felonies that require you to register as a sex offender. 

hash-markSection 8 HUD Housing for Convicted Felons

Although it can feel impossible to find public housing as a convicted felon, all is not lost. Felons can get Section 8 or public housing through HUD. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is well-equipped to support housing for criminals, depending on the crimes committed. It’s critical to understand what bars you from Section 8 so you know if you’re eligible to apply.

Two major felonies can keep you from accessing HUD housing, and many smaller ones HUD accepts when considering you for Section 8 assistance. We’ll go over both varieties so you can understand which section you fall underneath. Let’s get started.

Felonies that Allow Section 8

First, we’ll go over the felonies that still allow you to gain assistance from Section 8. There are a few specifications your felony must fall under to be considered for help from Section 8. If your crime falls under these, you are free to ask for assistance.

The guidelines a felony must follow to gain access to help from Section 8 include:

  • It’s not a disqualification felony: Certain felonies, and attributes that come with felonies, can disqualify you from receiving Section 8 assistance from HUD. We’ll dive into the specifics of this requirement in the next section.
  • Your felony is older than five years: Your felony should be older than five years, though occasionally less time is accepted if you go through a rehabilitation process.

These guidelines help specify which felons are permitted to access Section 8.

If you don’t have a disqualification felony, but your felony is not older than five years, there are two things you can do. Either wait for five years to pass or contact HUD to see if there are any rehabilitation programs you can take on to get Section 8 faster. With a certificate of completion, you might be able to bypass the waiting period.

Felonies that Disqualify You From Section 8

Now, we need to go over the felonies that don’t permit you to gain help from the HUD. If you’ve been convicted for either of these things, you won’t be able to gain access to Section 8. So long as you have only been convicted of the aforementioned felonies, you are good to go with federal housing.

The two felonies that don’t allow you to gain access to Section 8 include:

  • Registration as a sex offender: If you have committed a crime that requires you to register with a lifelong status as a sex offender, you can’t receive help from Section 8.
  • Manufacturing Methamphetamine: If you manufacture methamphetamine inside federal housing, you are barred from gaining access to the assistance that comes with Section 8.

You will need to find an alternative route if you fall under one of these two categories. Your options are significantly more restricted if you’ve performed a severe felony. 

Although not on this list, there are a few more reasons why you might be disqualified from Section 8 assistance. You could be disqualified if your crime is violent, fraudulent, or involves drug trafficking. If someone in your party has documented addiction, you may be disqualified. Poor relationships with neighbors and defaulted tenants can impact this decision as well.

If you have not been held responsible for either of these felonies, you can move on and start the process to access housing. Just be sure you check out some other factors that can cause you to lose Section 8 eligibility so that you know you qualify. 

We’ll go over some of the procedures you should keep in mind to achieve an apartment rental as a felon. Note that this is only for a rental, not for the ownership of a home.

hash-markFinding an Apartment as a Felon

We’ve discussed the restrictions for public housing as a felon. We’ve talked about the felonies that allow you access to HUD and the ones that don’t. Now, it’s time to dive into the process that will permit you to find an apartment as a felon. 

To find an apartment as a felon, you will need to do the following. 

1. Prepare a rental application

Due to your felony record, it’s vital to be as prepared as possible. To prepare for your apartment application gather all the necessary documents ahead of time including a letter of explanation, and various payments ready ahead of time. Have bank statements ready to view.

2. Get help from HUD

The next step in finding housing as a felon is to contact HUD. You should ask them if they have any rentals friendly for felons to apply to in person. This location can be the first place you look.

3. Search rental ads online

Look for ads for rentals on sites like Craigslist and Backpage. Landlords here are typically more flexible. Look within your price point and finish your application before meeting the landlord. There are also sites out there that are specialized on felon-friendly apartments. 

4. Access your network

Do you have friends or family on your side? Ask them about available properties, or utilize them to vouch for your character. Take advantage of the people in your life to help find a home.

5. Know the law

Know your rights. It’s illegal for a landlord to deny you residence based on your felony status, though not all of them will tell you this is why they refused your application. Gauge their reaction for future use.

This step is most critical. If you know the law, you can confront discrimination based on the intricacies of the law. If you think that the landlord denied your application based on your felony record, contact HUD. They can discuss options with you and help you find another way to gain access to public housing.

hash-markPublic Housing For Convicted Felons Bottom Line

If you're a convicted felon, it can be discouraging to try to find housing, but you can take advantage of government public housing programs. As long as the crime committed wasn't particularly heinous, a felon can qualify for HUD housing and Section 8. However, convicted felons will need to meet specific requirements and should expect to take some extra steps to find a home.

As long as you follow the proper procedure, you'll be able to qualify for Section 8, even with a felony record on your hands.