Housing and Felons
Let’s be real. Many landlords don’t want a felon living in their property. And many neighbors don’t want to live around convicted felons. By the same token, a sole felon living in a neighborhood full of non-felons may feel “out of place” sometimes. There are many psychological impacts associated with being a convicted felon, and how those persons feel living among persons who’ve never so much as littered or ran a red light. This falls under the term of disenfranchisement.
So what sometimes happens is that a felon, either because they cannot find a “nice neighborhood” to live in, or because they don’t feel comfortable there, often move into lower income areas…and there, they accumulate and may begin to interact and influence each other in less than positive ways.
Statistically, when an area has a higher number of felons living there it can have a net effect of higher crime rates. And yet, as discussed above, felons may end up being segregated from the rest of society and therefore get “stuck” in an environment where they have to “play along to get along.” Criminal behavior can quickly ensue.
What’s the solution? To start, a felon should overcome any feelings of not belonging in a good neighborhood, if that’s something which is bothering them. Unless there is a specific requirement restricting them from living in a certain area (such as not being able to live near a school zone), then a felon should apply for housing with an expectation that they will receive fair consideration.
Will they? No, not always.
And discrimination by a property manager or landlord can be hard to prove, but not impossible. It pays to simply have a frank discussion with the person or agency reviewing your application. Present yourself as a person, not just a piece of paper or a few rows of data on a screen. If you can go in in-person, do it. If not, at least try to do a phone conversation.
If several housing applications have been rejected, you may suspect discrimination. If so, it might be time to consult a qualified attorney to step in on your behalf. Yes, lawyers can be costly, but securing a suitable home environment is a long-term investment and is generally worth spending the money on. And of course, if discrimination is a factor, you might find yourself in a situation where a property manager is willing to negotiate out of court, maybe by offering a free month’s rent or two. It can happen!
An alternative is to consider public housing, and we’ve got a post all about that, too!