Housing and job search issues for the ex-offender

One of the biggest issues facing job seeking ex-offenders is housing. The reason housing for ex-offenders is such an issue would be because of the following problems:

  • The need for a physical address to apply for employment
  • The need for a physical address to apply for many types of employment and other assistance programs
  • The ability to sustain an individual support system

Why is housing so difficult for ex-offenders? Two basic reasons which are used as a blanket policy to deny ex-offenders of affordable housing:

  • Public housing often has final say if an ex-offender has made suitable rehabilitative efforts which are often harder to accomplish without housing
  • Private landlords are not willing to become involved with the issues they may face having an ex-offender living in their units regardless of the history

Because many ex-offenders find housing difficult as they re-enter the workforce, job searching becomes complicated and much harder to use for suitable results. What happens is that many ex-offenders become homeless or rotate back to criminal activity within the first year.

So how do you, as an ex-offender, get yourself around this enormous problem?

  • Know that there are alternatives to housing roadblocks
  • Be willing and able to make any reasonable efforts to obtain a stable address

For the next question, you are asking how you find housing and what kind. Here are a few suggestions which may help:

  • Locate a half-way house in the community or nearby community
  • Locate the Goodwill or Salvation Army chapter in your community
  • Locate a hotel which charges by the week
  • Locate rooming houses, dorms, or the local YMCA
  • Check with local non-profits or church ministers for ideas or aid
  • Check with local missions or the local government assistance offices

If all other housing options seem impossible to handle, try some of these ideas:

  • Check the availability of simply using someone's address so that you can place it on your applications and resumes to receive mail; use a cell phone to get calls.
  • Check to see if you can use a church or social service address while you look for work

If you are worried about the ability to pay rent, try these options:

  • Make a deal with a landlord for maintenance or upkeep of the property in exchange for rent
  • Become a church caretaker
  • Live in a campground during the open season
  • Apply to the Housing Choice Voucher Program (not usable for drug convicted ex-offenders)

While these suggestions will not work for every ex-offender, housing should not be as large an issue if you consider every option possible. The immediate needs and goals should be the following:

  • Find a usable address to find work
  • Find a suitable job to bring in a paycheck
  • Move to a more stable location and continue searching for better work