What are the first steps I should take in my housing search?
Here are the main types of housing you may consider after getting out of prison or jail:
- Short-term housing (staying short-term with a family member or friend, staying in transitional housing, staying in a shelter or other emergency housing)
- Long-term permanent housing (finding an apartment, moving in with family or friends permanently)
- Special needs housing (which could be short- or long-term)
- Government-assisted housing
- Below we walk through some steps to help you figure out your housing plans.
SET UP SHORT-TERM HOUSING PLANS.
First, you should figure out what type of housing is right for you in the short term, and where you will be allowed to live by probation or parole (or which ever type of supervision you are on) when you first get out. See the PAROLE & PROBATION CHAPTER, beginning on PG. 125 to learn about how your rules (called “conditions”) of supervision affect where you can live after release. There is more information about different types of short-term housing beginning on PG. 339.
GET YOUR ID.
Most housing programs will require proof of who you are, your age, and any income you receive. (Go to the BUILDING BLOCKS OF REENTRY: ID & VOTING CHAPTER, beginning on PG. 21, to learn how to get various forms of identification documents.)
SET UP LONG-TERM HOUSING PLANS.
Later on, you can figure out what type of housing is right for you permanently—we call this “long-term housing.” You need to find housing that you can afford, that you are eligible for (meaning you meet the requirements to be accepted), and that meets your personal needs.
Long-term, permanent housing might mean living with family or friends; living in an affordable apartment or housing unit run by a Public Housing Authority (PHA) or a private landlord; or living in an assisted-living facility for people with special needs (like seniors, veterans, women and children, people with disabilities, or people escaping domestic violence, 290 sex offender registrants). There is more information about different types of short-term housing beginning on PG. 339. For more information For more information on housing for special needs, see PG. 342.
HELPFUL TIPS as you look for housing
- KNOW YOUR RIGHTS as a person with a criminal record before you apply for housing! Depending on who owns and runs the housing (private vs. government-assisted—see PG. 349), you will have different rights in the process.IT’S ALWAYS A GOOD IDEA TO FIND HELP, if you can. Find an attorney, advocate, case manager, friend or family member, or probation/parole officer who can help you find housing. It is very important to have support in this process and throughout reentry. There is a list of helpful community resources in the back of this guide on PG. 1084 if you want ideas about where to look for help.FINDING HOUSING IS TOUGH BUT NOT IMPOSSIBLE—be patient and keep looking!SOME OF YOUR OPTIONS. Depending on whether you are currently incarcerated or already out, affordability, eligibility, and whether you are looking for short-term or long-term housing, you will have different types of housing options available to you. As you move further into your reentry, these options are likely to change over time.
Finding housing can be an exhausting process, but don’t give up. Reach out for help. There are resources listed throughout this chapter, and also a list of legal services providers on PG. 1075. You can call Root & Rebound (510-279-4662) if you have an emergency, and we may be able to refer you someone to help.