After serving their time, many ex-convicts find themselves in a pretty rough situation. A lot of things that are essential for a normal life – like a roof over their head – become extremely hard to attain. Being behind bars for a long time can be devastating for relationships as well, and many former prisoners do not have any relatives or friends they can go back home to. Homelessness among people with criminal pasts is not a rare occurrence. This is not fair, as they have done their time, and everybody deserves another chance in life.
So what are the ways the formerly incarcerated can find a place to stay? Well, many of these options depend on the nature of the crime committed, so informing and educating oneself is of the utmost importance.
Unfortunately, access to public housing for a person with a criminal record can sometimes be difficult. It all depends on the nature of the offense. If someone was involved with a violent or a crime involving drugs or sexual misconduct, a public housing agency can refuse to accept their application. Moreover, some homeless shelters have policies that work against people with criminal records.
This is because a person who was involved in these kinds of criminal activities can be deemed as dangerous to other occupants living in these facilities. However, if the said activity happened a long time ago, and the person kept their records clean since then, there is still a chance to be admitted. This is of course not an optimal solution for people recently out of jail.
Every landlord wants to find a reliable tenant who will pay their rent in time and not cause any trouble. They often do background checks which can lead to them refusing to rent out their place to someone with a criminal record. This is often out of fear, and sometimes ignorance. It’s best to be upfront about your criminal record since there is a huge chance a landlord will find about this anyways. So if you disclose this information yourself, you get a chance to explain your circumstances on your terms and at least give the impression of honesty. This will improve their trust in you.
Naturally, it’s important that you are upfront and honest and also that you possess adequate documentation to back you up, especially if you have evidence of rehabilitation. Even if you get rejected, don’t get discouraged, as there will be someone who understands your situation. Empathy and human kindness can go a long way. There will be people happy to help someone with a criminal record to start over. You can even actively go looking for people who rent out exclusively to people with a record. Many of them were ex-convicts themselves so they empathize.
There is a possibility of staying in a hostel or a motel for a short time until you find a permanent place to stay. Again it is important to check what the exact laws in your state are since there can be some restrictions depending on the state you live in. If you do have some family or friends to stay with, even for a short while, it is the best and the cheapest option until you get back onto your feet. There are also many Churches and non-profit organizations that have programs you can apply to.
Halfway houses are places for ex-convicts to receive support for their reintegration into society. Everyone has a right to spend their last days as a prisoner in a halfway house so they can re-learn important skills and sort out their living situation and maybe start the process of finding a job.
Clearing a criminal record:
One of the ways that an ex-prisoner can truly start anew and avoid most of the restrictions and problems that a criminal past often brings into someone’s life is to clear their criminal record. Almost every state has ways to achieve this. However, not everyone will be eligible for an expunction: it mostly depends on the particular case. It’s important to find out if you are eligible or not, as it could help you rebuild your life and truly have a fresh start. There are many ways to find out about your eligibility-but it is something you must do before you start the process.
For example, RecordPurge has a free eligibility test that you can take online to find out if you are eligible for expunction or not. Researching your state laws, knowing your rights, and seeing how those apply to your case is key.
Needless to say, this process can take a lot of time, and can sometimes be costly, therefore you should be prepared and well-informed beforehand. Finding a good legal agency that can help in achieving this is crucial.
In conclusion, there are many ways an ex-prisoner can find their home after getting out of prison. Most of the options available depend on the specifics of the case in question, which means that the critical thing is to study and research everything before taking any action.
Except that, keeping all of the important documentation related to your record will be very helpful. Potential landlords usually reach out to screening companies for background checks. If you get denied housing because of your criminal record, always ask for a copy of the said report.
Sometimes there will be wrong information in those reports, and you have an option to appeal to the screening company to fix this. Informing yourself about all the possible options is sometimes not easy.
Every individual case is complex and sometimes the best way is to directly seek legal advice and help. Having a criminal record should not stop a person from living their life. It certainly doesn’t mean a person should not have a right to have a roof over their head. It would be unfair. Anyone can make a mistake, and it most certainly shouldn’t cost them their entire life. The best way to avoid this is to clean your record if you can. If not you can always rely on different legal tools to achieve your right to a decent life.