Housing for felons in Texas is provided through state and charity-run reentry programs, subsidized housing programs, charity-run shelters, transitional housing initiatives, and private landlords offering second-chance apartments.
Finding felon-friendly housing is one of the biggest challenges offenders face on release from prison. Felons aren’t a protected class under the Fair Housing Act and landlords can legally refuse to rent ex-offenders.
In this guide, we’ll explain your housing options.
Can You Rent An Apartment With A Felony In Texas?
Having a felony doesn’t mean you can’t rent a place to live in Texas. It can certainly be a challenge to find a landlord willing to rent to you because of your felony, but it’s not impossible.
In the past, landlords in Texas were very reluctant to rent apartments to felons because landlords could be sued for negligence by other tenants if the offender committed a crime on the property.
But the law has changed, and thanks to Bill HB 1510, landlords in Texas can’t be held liable when they rent an apartment to a non-violent felon. This protection from liability has increased the number of landlords willing to provide housing to non-violent felons in Texas.
Read the Full Article on Can Felons Rent Apartments?
Can Landlords Legally Refuse to Rent To Felons?
When you apply to rent an apartment, most landlords will run a background check on you, which includes a criminal history report.
A landlord has the right to refuse to rent to you because of your felony as long as they assess your criminal history on a case-by-case basis and don’t impose a blanket ban on renting to offenders.
If you call or visit an apartment complex and ask if they rent to felons and they say no, then that’s a blanket ban that could violate the Fair Housing Act. But if a landlord runs a background check and then decides you might present a risk to the safety of their property or their other residents, they can legally refuse your application.
The Fair Housing Act makes it an offense for landlords to discriminate against applicants for housing because of race, ethnicity, gender, sex, age, disability, family status, religion, or national origin.
While having a felony does not make you a protected class under the Fair Housing Act, barriers to housing based on criminal history have a disproportionate impact on minorities who are a protected class.
To comply with the Fair Housing Act, landlords who use criminal background reports to screen applicants must make sure they screen all applicants on an equal and consistent basis.
Is There Any Housing Assistance For Felons In Texas?
As we’ve already mentioned, finding a place to live when you’ve got a felony on your record can be difficult, but some help is available from second-chance apartment finders, charities, reentry programs, and subsidized housing programs.
Second Chance Apartment Finders
Second-chance apartment finders are real estate agents who specialize in finding rentals for people who can’t pass a background check because of an unfavorable criminal history or credit report.
If you can afford market rent, and have the funds for advance rent and a security deposit, then using the services of a second chance apartment finder is an option for you. These services are often free to use because they receive a finder’s fee from the property owner.
They’ll ask to you consent to a background check to determine which landlords in their database will agree to rent to you.
Some second-chance landlords, for example, won’t rent to violent offenders or sex offenders, others say no to drug convictions.
Search on Google to find second-chance apartment finders in Texas, or visit “Apartment Find for Criminal Issues” and fill out their contact form at https://aptfindcriminal.com/our-services/felony-convictions/.
Are Felons Eligible For Subsidized Housing In Texas?
Subsidized housing is funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD programs for low-income households include the Public Housing program and the Section 8 voucher program.
These housing programs are open to anyone meeting the low-income threshold for their area, they aren’t just for felons. Waiting lists can be very long, so it’s essential to make an application as soon as you can.
Subsidized housing programs run criminal background checks on all applicants.
Federal regulations bar anyone with a conviction for manufacturing methamphetamine in publicly assisted housing from receiving support. Sex offenders with a lifetime registration requirement are also prohibited from receiving subsidized housing support.
Local public housing authorities in Texas also impose their own restrictions. Each housing authority has its own policy, but generally, PHAs will reject applicants with convictions for drug-related offenses, violent crimes, sex offenses, and arson. For some offenses, the restriction will be time-limited, for others the offense means a permanent ban.
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice Reentry Program
For information about housing and the other help available through state reentry programs, call the reentry hotline at (877) 887-6151. Reentry programs assist with transitional housing, employment, skills training, identity documents, education, substance abuse, and mental health issues.
The Texas Department Of Justice Resource List
The Texas Department of Justice provides a comprehensive list of resources for felons and other ex-offenders. The resources are provided by state and local government agencies, and by charity and non-profit organizations. Resources are listed on a county-by-county basis, making it easy to locate the help on offer in your local and neighboring areas.
Each resource listed features the name of the organization, the type of help they offer, their address and contact details, and a brief description of the help they provide.
For example, in Anderson County, Redemption House in Palestine, Texas offers housing for males, including sex offenders and those on monitors for $50 per week.
See the full list of resources by visiting https://www.tdcj.texas.gov/documents/rid/RID_Reentry_Resource_Guide.pdf
Texas Offenders Reentry Initiative (T.O.R.I)
The Texas Offenders Reentry Initiative helps ex-offenders find a safe place to live. They work with shelters and transitional housing providers to ensure that safe, affordable housing is available for returning citizens.
Whether you need help with housing, employment, education, or medical needs, T.O.R.I. is a place you can turn to.
Visit their website at https://www.medc-tori.org/ or call the Dallas office at 214-941-1325 ext. 101, or the Fort Worth office at 817-496-9667 ext. 105.
The Way Back House
The Way Back House provides case management services to adults in Dallas and the surrounding areas. Services are available if you’ve been released from prison in the last 12 months. You’ll receive a personal assessment and assistance tailored to your unique needs.
Visit the website at https://thewaybackhouse.org/
Cornbread Hustle is a second-chance employment agency linking ex-offenders with felon-friendly jobs throughout Texas.
Having stable employment is a vital step towards self-sufficiency, and landlords expect to see a verifiable source of income when they apply for a rental.
The staff at Cornbread Hustle may also have some leads on landlords willing to rent to felons, and their website has a resource page listing several housing charities and many other services.
To learn more, visit https://cornbreadhustle.com/
Apartments That Rent To Felons In Dallas TX
The best way to find apartments that rent to felons in Dallas TX is to use a second chance apartment locator. With the help of an apartment finder, you won’t waste time and money applying to places that won’t rent to you.
But if you prefer to search for your own place, then look for independent landlords on sites like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace.
Why are independent landlords better than apartments run by property management companies?
Simply put, independent landlords have a lot more flexibility about your background compared to the agents in the corporate letting offices at large apartment complexes.
These landlords are often more willing to rent to offenders, especially if you’ve got steady employment, a security deposit, and good references. Some won’t even bother with a background check.
Craigslist Dallas: https://dallas.craigslist.org/
Facebook Marketplace Dallas: https://www.facebook.com/marketplace/dallas/
Housing For Felons In Austin Texas
The Reentry Roundtable offers a comprehensive list of housing providers and other reentry resources for ex-offenders in Austin and Travis County.
Visit their website at https://www.reentryroundtable.org/get-help/ and follow the instructions to locate housing for felons in Austin, Texas.
Another organization offering help finding felon-friendly housing in Austin is the United Way for Greater Austin. United Way provides information about housing, employment, transportation, food, basic needs, education, and childcare.
Help is just a phone call away on the free multilingual helpline. Call United Way by dialing 2-1-1.
You’ll need to be persistent when you search for housing for ex-offenders in Texas. It’s easy to get discouraged when landlords reject you, but you shouldn’t take it personally. Just move on to the next landlord on your list.
Going through a state or charity-run reentry program is a good option because often this is the only way to find many of the landlords offering transitional housing and second-chance rentals. These landlords don’t advertise their rentals and work directly with reentry service providers.
If you’ve already got a steady income, think about using a second-chance apartment finder, or look for independent landlords on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. Check the listings several times a day so you catch new listings as soon as possible.
Charles Greg is the Co-Founder, Author, & Head Developer behind RentingtoFelons.org
With a lifelong passion for humanity.