Many of the persons, both male and female, who are released from prison, are in need of different forms of help. Most of them will need jobs, while a significant number will also need somewhere to live. Some ex-felons are lucky to have family and friends who will provide housing and employment, but the vast majority will not have this support.
While it is true that programs exist to help, many ex-prisoners do not know how to go about finding them. The Internet is a starting point to research available resources, programs and organizations that work to help felons reintegrate into society. Some of these resources help with housing, job training and placement. Two of the re-entry support programs in North Carolina are:
- Capital Area Workforce Development Board (http://www.capitalareawdb.com/): Former offenders are assisted with job preparation skills including writing resumes and learning how to do job interviews. Assistance is also given with transportation and advice on keeping a job after getting it.
- The Center for Community Transitions (http://www.centerforcommunitytransitions.org/): This organization helps with transitional services for ex-offenders including job placement and counselling for the formerly incarcerated and their families.
Five Ways to Find Jobs for Felons in NC
Finding a job after being released from prison is the same whether you are in Raleigh, NC or looking for jobs for felons in Durham, NC. Job seekers encounter the same difficulties and must take the same steps to achieve success. Preparation is important for anyone looking for a job, but it is even more so for anyone with a criminal record.
When looking for jobs you may have to decide if you will move elsewhere or remain where you are currently. The tips below will not work for everyone, but they are worth trying in your bid to find employment and take care of yourself and your family (if you have one).
- Find out how to write a great resume and cover letter that are suited to your specific situation, e.g. education and skills
- Search for jobs online using the right terms to help narrow down the hits. For an ex-inmate in North Carolina, search terms such as “jobs for felons in Charlotte, NC” or “companies that hire felons in North Carolina” are good options.
- Use your network for job placement or leads to jobs. Friends, family, the church and other organizations and people you know can be your best link to finding employment after your release from prison
- Federal agencies such as the US Department of Labor (http://www.dol.gov/) and the North Carolina Department of Public safety (http://www.doc.state.nc.us/) are good sources of information on rehabilitative services.
For many former prisoners, the best sources for jobs are restaurant chains, fast-food outlets, the construction sector and starting your own business. Contrary to popular belief, the cost of starting your own business is not always high as it depends on what you want to do. The provision of a service, such as writing blog posts for a company or managing a Facebook page only require having a computer and Internet access. The Small Business Association (http://www.sba.gov/) website is a good source of information for any ex-felon considering starting a business.
It is important to remember that as a felon your job search will not be an easy one. Employers may discriminate against you because of your criminal background. Once you are employed, you must always try to do a good job as people may expect you to fail.
Steps to Finding Housing as a Felon in North Carolina
Housing is a basic need for everyone, and finding temporary or transitional housing is fairly easy for most recently released felons. However, most transitional housing is for a maximum of six months. This means that many former inmates are left facing homelessness if they cannot find a place to rent. For many, the only places that are available are in crime prone areas. As a result many ex-offenders will find themselves right back where they started – in a life of crime.
Some places to check when looking for rental properties include:
- NC Housing Search (http://www.socialserve.com/tenant/Search.html?city_id=38316&ch=NC&type=rental): This provides a searchable listing of available properties for rent and sale
- The NC Department of Corrections – Office of Research & Planning (http://randp.doc.state.nc.us/scripts/htmSQL.exe/docs/hsql/CM/CountyResourceGuide-RptIndex.hsql): Ex-offenders can find assistance in looking for available housing for various categories of ex-offenders including sex offenders.
- The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/public_indian_housing/pha/contacts): This website has information on various programs that some ex-felons may be able to benefit from including HUD vouchers and access to low income housing solutions
- GoSection8 (http://www.gosection8.com/): This website provides information on available housing help for those most in need across the nation.
As a felon, there are no guarantees that you will find suitable housing using any of the above sources. In many cases, each applicant is assessed individually, so you may just be able to convince the landlord to give you a chance.
Starting to prepare for release is an important step towards getting back to society after being imprisoned. This should include not just job preparedness, but also counselling and advice on how to adjust to being free.