Having a stable place to live provides a strong foundation for everything you need to do for successful reentry such as – finding a job, furthering your education or training, and getting your finances in order. Finding housing is tough but not impossible. An important step to avoid becoming homeless is to begin planning and identifying housing options while you’re still incarcerated.
Steps in your housing search:
- Set up SHORT-TERM HOUSING where you will go directly after release
- Get your ID (most housing programs require proof of who you are, your age, and proof of income including public benefits)
- Set up LONG-TERM HOUSING
If possible, find an advocate – social service agency, case manager, friend or family member, faith-based organization, or probation officer who can help you find housing. It is very important to have support in this process and throughout reentry.
If you have friends or family in the area, staying with them may be a convenient temporary option for housing immediately upon release. But there are pros and cons to this arrangement. It is important to have the social support that family and friends can offer. They may provide temporary stability and know of good resources needed for your successful reentry. But remember, if you are under supervision after release, your probation office will need to approve your housing and may conduct home visits. And if you plan to stay with someone who is renting, make sure your stay does not violate the guest policy in their lease agreement. If you plan to stay with a friend or family member, just plan ahead to make sure you and your housing host understand all the consequences.
Shelters are not a stable option but if you find yourself homeless, most shelters offer a free bed and shower for one night, sometimes multiple nights, but space is limited. If you are homeless and in need of temporary shelter in Rhode Island, you must call the Coordinated Entry System (CES) to access shelter.
The CES Hotline number is (401) 277-4316. This hotline is operated and managed by Crossroads Rhode Island. CES staff will conduct an assessment and try to locate shelter for you for the night. However, finding a space for you is not guaranteed.
Transitional housing programs are temporary programs that offer housing and services for otherwise homeless people. Keep in mind they usually have requirements you have to meet before you can move in, and there are usually waitlists. Some of transitional housing is reserved for special populations such as homeless moms with young children, victims of domestic abuse, those recovering from addiction, or veterans. For more information about veteran’s housing, go to: https://www.providence.va.gov/services/homeless/.
Below is a partial list of social service agencies in Rhode Island that offer temporary housing.
Location: 460 Pine Street, Providence Phone: 401-272-0220 Website: https://www.amoshouse.com/
Crossroads Rhode Island
Location: 160 Board Street, Providence Phone: 401-521-2255 Website: https://www.crossroadsri.org/
McAuley House (for single moms and their children)
Location: 622 Elmwood Ave, Providence Phone: 401-941-9013 Website: https://www.mcauleyri.org/
House of Hope (small number of apartments)
Location: 3188 Post Road, Warwick Phone: 401-463-3324 Website: https://thehouseofhopecdc.org/
Lucy’s Hearth (small number of apartments)
Location: 19 Valley Road, Middletown Phone: 401-847-2021 Website: https://www.lucyshearth.org/
Long term housing might include: apartments and homes that are supported through government assistance for low income individuals and families, (though these often have long waitlists); single-room occupancy (SRO) units in apartment buildings or homes where you usually have a private bedroom and bathroom, but a shared kitchen and living space; rental apartments; and living permanently with family, friends, or other people who support you.
There are several programs funded by the federal government that provide housing assistance to low income individuals and families. There are income eligibilities requirements, set by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that are similar for all types of government assisted housing and based on the size of your family. If you live alone, you are generally not eligible unless you are over 62, or disabled, or handicapped. You can find more information about government assisted housing programs online in Rhode Island at https://www.rihousing.com/
Housing Choice Voucher program (Section 8 Rental Assistance)
This federal program provides housing assistance in the form of a “voucher”. Under this program, you choose and lease affordable, privately owned rental housing where the owner/landlord has agreed to participate in the program. Tenants are required to pay 30-40% of their gross household income in rent and utilities. This type of subsidy is tenant-based, meaning the assistance is tied to the individual rather than the property. To be eligible, you must meet certain income guidelines based on the size of your household and the community in which you want to live.
There is a centralized waiting list (CWL) for the Housing Choice Voucher Program. You can apply to the program through this online system and once you have applied, it provides access to various HCVP waiting lists through a single application. If you are interested in the Housing Choice Voucher Program, go to: www.waitlistcentralRI.com and select “applicant login” to create an account and apply. There is no fee to complete an application.
Project Based Voucher Program (Section 8 Subsidized Apartments)
This program also provides low-and moderate-income households with monthly rental assistance. However, this assistance is tied to particular apartments themselves rather than to the tenant. RIHousing administers the program in over 300 specifically designated units in various privately-owned developments throughout the state. This program also uses the online centralized application and waiting list process mentioned above. If you are interested in the Project Based Voucher Program, go to: www.waitlistcentralRI.com and select “applicant login” to create an account and apply.
Low Income (Public) Housing
These apartments are located in subsidized housing developments and often have long waiting lists. Tenants are required to pay approximately 30% of their gross household income toward rent and utilities. This program also has income eligibility requirements based on how many are in your household. These developments are also project-based, which means that the financial assistance is attached to the property itself, and not the tenant. You can contact the management office of the development in which you wish to live to apply to be placed on the waiting list or to obtain more information.
You can find a list of subsidized housing developments in the Rhode Island Rental Resource Guide online at: https://www.rihousing.com/wp-content/uploads/Rental-Resource-Guide-10-1-19.pdf
One of the best ways to find an apartment is through family and friends but that’s not always possible. There are many websites that list apartments for rent but always make sure you visit the apartment, meet the landlord and read the lease carefully before you sign. To rent a private, unsubsidized apartment, the landlord might check your credit report and require you to pay a damage deposit in addition to the first month rent in order to sign a lease to rent. Some leases are month to month but most require you to stay in the apartment for at least one year. Landlords can run a background check on potential renters only if the renter gives his/her signed consent.
There are many websites that list apartments for rent in Rhode Island as well as other states.
Craigslist is one of the largest. You can find apartments and houses for rent in Rhode Island.
HousingSearchRI.org is a free online rental listing service. Detailed listings can include pictures, maps, eligibility requirements (if applicable), and much more. There are both simple and detailed search options. There is also a toll-free, bilingual call center at 1-877-428-8844, open Mon -Fri, 9:00 am-8:00 pm for information and assistance.