When you’re looking for housing for felons in Illinois, there are some steps you can take to narrow down your search and improve your results. If you’ve recently left prison or are soon to be released, you’ll need to look for transitional housing first.
Transitional housing (halfway housing) gives you a safe place to live while you find a job and get back on your feet, and a reentry organization can help you find a suitable place.
If you’re an ex-offender looking for permanent housing for felons in Illinois, one thing you must avoid is putting in rental applications before you know that a landlord or property manager will actually rent to felons. Rental applications come with fees and there’s no point in spending your money if you’re going to be rejected.
What’s The Best Way To Find Housing For Felons In Illinois?
In this guide, we’re going to cover several resources you can use to find temporary and permanent housing for felons in Illinois. We’ll look at second-chance apartment finders, faith-based resources, nonprofit re-entry organizations, and Section 8 housing assistance from your local housing authority.
Before we get started, let’s take a quick look at rental background checks in Illinois so you know what a landlord can discover about you.
Related Article: How To Rent An Apartment With A Felony On Your Record
Why Do Felons Fail Rental Background Checks In Illinois?
Felons often fail rental background checks because property owners want their tenants to live in safe neighborhoods. Unfortunately, the re-offending rate among felons is high, especially for property-related crimes.
Even if you’re 100% determined to keep on the right side of the law, a landlord has no way of knowing if you’ll be successful with that aim and instead uses average recidivism rates to form their policy for renting to felons.
The vast majority of landlords and property managers will carry out rental background checks before they rent a house or apartment to a tenant. Your application fee covers the cost of the background check.
The background report they receive contains details about your rental history, including any previous evictions; your credit history; your employment history; and your criminal history.
Background checks are a type of consumer report regulated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). FCRA rules limit reporting about your employment, credit, and rental history to the last 7 years. But there’s no limit on reporting misdemeanor or felony convictions.
Some states have passed laws that limit criminal history reporting to 7 years, but Illinois isn’t one of those states. Every time a landlord runs a rental background check, they’ll be able to see your entire criminal history.
The background check might seem like an impossible hurdle to get over, but it isn’t.
While some property owners will have a policy that rejects anyone with a felony on their record, no matter how long ago it took place, others will rent to ex-offenders if the felony is 10 years old, 7 years old, or 5 years old. And some will rent to individuals with a more recent felony.
The trick is finding those landlords who will give felons a second chance. And that’s where second-chance apartment finders come into the picture.
Read Also: Apartments that Accept Evictions Near Me
Second Chance Apartment Finders For Felons In Illinois
Landlords willing to rent housing to felons in Illinois don’t advertise the fact. You’re very unlikely to see an apartment rental listing with a notice declaring that felons are welcome to apply because they don’t want to deter regular renters who would worry about living next door to a convicted felon.
To find a felon-friendly landlord, you need to use a second-chance apartment finder. These are typically real estate agents who specialize in helping people who can’t pass a rental background check.
There are two types of second-chance apartment finders. The first type deals with landlords who will rent to people with poor employment, credit, or rental history. The second type deals with landlords who will rent to people with misdemeanor or felony convictions. Some deal with all second chance categories.
When you use a second chance apartment finder, you don’t always need to pay a fee, although some agents can offer a wider range of rental options if you pay for their service.
With no-fee services, agents get paid a finder’s fee by the landlord when they sign a lease, and some agents even offer to give a portion of their fee to the tenant as an incentive to use their service.
Some landlords don’t want to pay finders’ fee, though, and that’s why you may need to pay an agent.
Working with an apartment finder cuts out all the wasted time and money you would otherwise go through when you’re looking for housing for felons.
Second-chance apartment finders know which landlords will rent housing to felons and they keep all of that knowledge in a detailed database.
They know felon-friendly landlords in Illinois willing to rent to recently released offenders, and to felons with 3, 5, or 10-year plus convictions. And they know which landlords will accept a felony drug conviction, felony theft, or a felony assault.
To get a second chance apartment, you’ll need to have a job that gives you a steady source of income. If you don’t have a job yet, focus your search on transitional housing (see below).
A landlord will typically want to see that your income is at least 2.5 times the rental amount. If an apartment is listed at $800 per month, you’ll need to show a regular income of $2,000 per month to qualify.
When you contact a second chance apartment finder, they’ll ask you about your felony convictions and they’ll usually run a background check to make sure you’ve told them the full story about your criminal history and to verify that your credit, employment, and the rental background will meet the acceptance criteria of the landlords they refer you to.
A good second-chance apartment finder will contact the landlord on your behalf. They’ll disclose your background and ask if the landlord is okay with it. Once they’ve put together a list of landlords willing to rent housing to you, they’ll give you the addresses so you can view the accommodation.
If you find an apartment that suits your needs, you’ll still need to go through the application process and pay a rental application fee, but this time your money won’t be wasted because you already know you’ll be accepted.
To find a second chance apartment finder in Illinois, use your search engine and enter “second chance apartment finders for felons in Illinois”. Narrow down your search by entering your city instead of Illinois. You can also find property rental agents on Facebook and on Craigslist.
Faith-Based Housing Assistance For Felons In Illinois
The largest faith-based organization offering housing assistance for felons in Illinois and across the United States is the Catholic Church.
Through their reentry missions, the Catholic Church can help ex-felons secure transitional and permanent housing, find employment, and access support networks.
Your local diocese or reentry mission will know of landlords willing to rent apartments to felons, and some also own apartments or shared housing you can rent while you get back on your feet. They’re a great resource for recently released felons and for those who’ve already been out of prison for some time but still need help finding a place to live.
There’s no shame in asking for help, and Christian reentry missions also offer ex-offenders the chance to get involved with volunteer work and network within the community. Becoming actively involved in volunteer work allows you to “pay it forward”.
You’ll also work alongside people who can give you valuable character references that provide evidence of your rehabilitation to future employers and landlords.
The most direct way to get help from the Catholic Church or another Christian denomination is to visit a local priest or pastor and ask if they will put you in touch with your nearest reentry mission or program.
The most accessible reentry mission is Our Brother’s Keepers ministry run by the Diocese of Belleville, which covers the southern part of Illinois. If you’re in another part of the state, you can still contact them, and they will connect you with the relevant organization for your part of Illinois.
This is their website address: https://obkministry.org/supportive-services-for-returning-citizens/
Here are their contact details:
- OBK Reentry Office:
- 614 N. 7th Street,
- East St. Louis, IL
- Office Phone: 618-271-7821
You should also find out if Saint Leonard’s Ministries can help you. Saint Leonard’s Ministries works with formerly incarcerated men and helps ex-offenders find transitional and permanent housing in Illinois.
Here’s their website https://slministries.org/housing/saint-leonards-house/.
Nonprofit Reentry Organizations Can Help With Housing For Felons In Illinois
Contact these organizations to ask for help with transitional housing or to get help locating permanent housing for felons in Illinois.
The Safer Foundation
The Safer Foundation is a major nonprofit organization providing a wide range of reentry services to individuals with a criminal history. They can help you find stable transitional or permanent housing in Illinois, as well as help you obtain ID, look for work and get to job interviews.
You can visit their website to learn more at https://saferfoundation.org/reentry-support-wellness/.
Alternatively, give them a call at 773-265-0423
Reentry Illinois provides comprehensive guides to help ex-offenders with their transition back into society, and they also have an extensive directory of reentry housing and support services in Illinois.
Search the directory for housing and reentry services throughout Illinois at the following website: https://guide.reentryillinois.net/en/?what=Reentry%2CHousing
Target Area is a grassroots non-profit organization that helps returning citizens find housing, employment, and access to education and other support services so that they can become productive members of the community.
You can contact Target Area by using the link on this page https://www.targetarea.org/re-entry
Section 8 Housing Assistance For Felons In Illinois
Section 8 housing assistance gives low-income households vouchers that cover a portion of their rent. In Illinois you may also be eligible for project-based public housing.
You’ll need to meet income thresholds to qualify, and there will usually be a waiting list for these programs because demand exceeds supply.
The best thing to do is arrange an appointment with an advisor through your local public housing authority and get onto the waiting list.
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the average waitlist time nationally is two and a half years, so you should get on the waiting list with your local housing authority as soon as you can.
You aren’t limited to joining the waitlist for one local housing authority and joining multiple waitlists in your area will improve your chances of getting a voucher.
Find your nearest Section 8 office by using the links on this page https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/public_indian_housing/pha/contacts
Select Illinois from the menu list or click on Illinois on the map. Then you’ll be taken to a PDF report that lists the addresses and phone numbers of all the public housing authorities in Illinois.
If you decide to work with a reentry organization, your reentry advisor will help you navigate the public housing assistance process.
To access housing assistance for felons in Illinois, use the services offered by reentry organizations or second-chance apartment finders.
You’ll need a stable income to qualify for any second-chance apartments. If you’ve recently been released and haven’t already found a job, a reentry service can help you find transitional housing and suitable employment. They will also be ready to help you move on to your own apartment once you’ve got a steady income.
There’s no need to struggle alone, and ex-offenders who access support networks have a much better chance of becoming productive members of their communities and avoiding a return to prison.
Robert Eric (a lover of Cats and Dogs) is the co-founder of HireFelonsJobs. In our search for a better life, after… A platform was created for the purpose of easing the search for ex-convicts.