Finding a job with a felony conviction can be an uphill struggle for many former prisoners. Even with the best qualifications, many companies are unwilling to take a chance on someone who has served time in prison.
The odds are even worse for some categories of former inmates based on their race, gender and educational background. The type of crime committed can make it even more difficult to get employment. Registered sex offenders, and those involved in drug trafficking and some types of violent crime are especially hard pressed to find a job and somewhere to call home.
Many former inmates can only find low paying jobs, but this is start. Earning a small salary is better than not earning anything at all. Programs such as the Columbus Restoration Academy (http://wosu.org/2012/news/tag/columbus-restoration-academy/) helps ex-felons better prepare for jobs and even help them to find jobs.
It is important to know what kinds of jobs you can apply for based on your conviction. The website, CIVICC (http://civiccohio.org/) (Civic Impacts of Criminal Convictions Under Ohio Law) has a lot of information on how your conviction has affected your employability.
Some places to apply to for jobs if you have a criminal record and live in Ohio include:
- Star Transportation (Columbus, Ohio)
- Avis Rent-A-Car
- Domino’s Pizza
- Dairy Queen
- Sprint Corporation
- United Way
Tips for finding Jobs for Felons in Cleveland, Ohio
As with any job search, it is important to apply for those for which you are qualified. You should learn how to answer questions in an interview, especially those that refer to your conviction and time in prison.
The Web has valuable information on how to handle interviews as a felon and writing good resumes. If you need help, there are also lots of organizations that provide these types of services to ex-felons to help them get back into society as smoothly as possible. The site, Career Thought Leaders (http://www.careerthoughtleaders.com/library/tough-career-transitions/5-tips-for-helping-job-seekers-with-felony-convictions/) has useful tips to help felons handle job interviews.
Is There Housing for Felons in Ohio
Finding suitable housing as a felon in Ohio is not easy, but it is not impossible. Unlike in many other states, ex-inmates in Ohio have additional options for finding suitable housing. One such is the Ohio Multi-County Development Corporation (OM-CDC) (http://www.omcdc.org/). While the requirements vary, felons are not automatically disqualified unless they have been charged with arson, drug manufacturing or are registered sex offenders. According to the website, each applicant’s case is judged on its own merit. While it is not long-term housing, this is a good start for ex-felons who need a place to live while they try to get a job and permanent housing. HUD (http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/states/ohio) is a federal agency that may also be of help to former prisoners who need to find somewhere to live.
Searching the Internet will reveal property management companies and realtors in Ohio that believe in second chances and who are willing to consider felons as renters. Places to consider include half way houses such as South End Oxford Road (http://www.oxfordhouse.org/userfiles/file/).
A little used way to find out which apartments rent to felons is to check the sex offender registry listing for your area. If the addresses for these individuals are apartments, it is more than likely that if they rent to sex offenders, they will rent to other tenants. Other ways to go about finding a home include:
- Sharing an apartment: It is possible to find someone who will share an apartment with you, especially if they know you are genuinely trying to turn your life around
- Rent from friends or family members
- If you can afford to, buy your own house
Programs in Cleveland for Felons
The Internet has information on programs designed to help ex-offenders once they are released from prison. Some of the programs available for ex-felons will help prepare them for the job world, with some even being actively involved in the job search and placement process. Some of these programs are:
- NewBirth Project through CCE (The Center for Community Empowerment) (http://www.cceytown.org/newbirth.html): provides mentoring from ex-offenders themselves who have succeeded at reentering society. There are also meetings to help ex-offenders talk through their issues.
- Towards Employment (http://www.towardsemployment.org/): Unlike a lot of other programs for felons, this one helps felons prepare for jobs, find jobs, keep their jobs and eventually get careers through continuous support and training.
- The Reentry Bridge Network (http://reentrybridgenetwork.org/principles/): The focus of this program is to keep people out of prison, and to build families by providing programs to help felons before and after they are released from prison.
Ex-offenders need to keep positive and understand that with all the ‘nos’ they will receive when applying for jobs or looking for places to live, that one ‘yes’ will make all the difference. Becoming a part of a network such as a church or an organization that supports ex-felons will be helpful.