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Felon-Friendly Apartments Near Suffolk, Franklin, Chesapeake, Norfolk and More

by | Jan 29, 2024 | Community Resources

Forward, Together with western tidewater community services board

If you’ve been convicted of a felony, you serve a sentence to “pay your debt to society” – but what about when that sentence has been completed? Even though the “debt” has been paid, the punishment seems to carry over into your new life. Society places a stigma on individuals living with a felony conviction and you’ll probably experience several challenges while trying to reintegrate into society. One of the most common is finding a safe, stable place to live. Most landlords and property management companies require criminal background checks and many are hesitant to rent to someone with a felony conviction. Fortunately, there are felon-friendly options here in Suffolk and in the surrounding areas.

Finding Felon-Friendly Apartments in Coastal, Southeastern Virginia

There aren’t many apartment complexes that publicly state their policy on accepting applicants with felonies, and most of the bigger communities don’t accept anyone with a felony conviction anyway. This makes it pretty difficult to find a place to live the usual way – searching on apartment finder websites. Instead, start by applying for resources specifically created for individuals with felony convictions.

Reentry Programs in Virginia

Virginia CARES Reentry Program

Reentry programs provide resources to help qualifying individuals reintegrate into society. Virginia CARES benefits are for individuals who have a felony conviction and/or are unhoused. Virginia CARES provides one-on-one counseling with ex-offenders and their families to help ex-offenders transition back into their communities. Through these counseling sessions, a Virginia CARES representative can determine your needs and and provide referrals to services including:

  • Vocational rehabilitation
  • Medical needs
  • Legal services
  • Substance abuse services
  • Emergency food and clothing
  • Transportation for job leads, shopping, emergency food or housing

Low-Income Housing (Section 8 Housing) in Virginia

If you qualify for low-income housing, definitely apply, because these publicly subsidized housing options are usually more accessible to someone with a felony, compared to private rentals.

In Virginia, low-income housing is managed by The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). There can be long waiting lists, but you should be asked if your current housing is secure or if you are at risk of homelessness. If you can answer yes to either of these questions, you may be able to skip ahead in the line as a priority applicant. also has a convenient filter that shows you low-income housing available in the area. Just choose your city, and under “more,” select “low-income.” You can use the website to find housing you’re interested in, but you’ll still have to apply through HUD.

FYI: HUD doesn’t have a blanket policy prohibiting individuals with felonies from living in section 8 housing, but they will likely refuse certain convicted individuals.

Some low-income housing options in the area include:

Find more options in Newport News, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach and more cities here

Transitional and Sober Housing in Virginia

Transitional housing is designed to help individuals who’ve been recently incarcerated, are recovering from substance abuse or are going through another kind of transition. Some transitional/sober houses in the area include:

Related: Starting Over After a Relapse

Other Programs in Virginia That Help Residents With Felonies Find Housing

Comprehensive Housing Counseling

The Comprehensive Housing Counseling Program from Hampton Roads Community Action provides help through home buying assistance programs, rent assistance programs and foreclosure prevention services.

Focus on Smaller Landlords

If you need housing right away and can’t afford the long wait that often comes with housing programs, you might want to try looking for a rental managed by an individual. Smaller landlords are often more lenient and some don’t require background checks. You can find smaller rentals on websites like Craigslist, Zillow and Realtor. Keep in mind that bigger apartment complexes run by property management companies (that will likely not rent to someone with a felony) also advertise on these sites, so focus on those smaller rentals. Try searching for “for rent by owner.”

Other Housing Options in Virginia for Someone Convicted of a Felony 

Live With Someone Else

If you don’t have the time or other resources right now to go through any of these methods, see if you can live with someone else. You can ask a friend or family member to be your roommate (and to keep the lease in their name) or look for a roommate on a website like Craigslist. 

Extended Stay Hotels/Motels

Extended stay hotels and motels let you rent out a hotel room that is essentially an apartment. They often include kitchenettes with counter space, a stovetop (but not an oven), a coffee maker, a microwave and refrigerator. Compared to a regular hotel, extended stay hotels are very affordable for short-term stays. However, they can get expensive quickly, so it’s only a short-term fix.


Subletting is another short-term fix. If you know someone who’s subletting their rental (or if you can find someone on a website like Craigslist who is), you can pick up their lease and finish it out – usually with no background check required.

Tips on Finding an Apartment as a Felon

Looking for a more traditional rental? You can find landlords or property management companies that will rent out a house or apartment to someone who’s been convicted of a felony, but you might have to try a little harder to find what you’re looking for.

Be Honest and Upfront

Don’t wait for a potential landlord to ask, be upfront and explain how your felony charge happened. Be direct and calm, take responsibility and explain why you’re a different person today. Most importantly, be sincere – they’ll know if you’re not.

Make Your Rental Application as Strong as Possible 

Provide resources from current or previous employers, mentors or community leaders. Show them that you have a steady income and employment history (even if there is a gap due to incarceration). If you have the means, consider providing a higher security deposit or more rent up front.

Demonstrate rehabilitation and personal growth 

Show potential landlords that you’ve learned from your experiences and have made positive changes in your life. Let them know that you will be a responsible tenant.

Bring on a Co-Signer 

If possible, bring on a co-signer. Having someone with good credit vouch for you can make a big difference.

A Community of Hope

Western Tidewater Community Services Board is your local, single-point-of-access for affordable and accessible behavioral health care in Franklin, Suffolk and the counties of Isle of Wight and Southampton. We provide our community members with resources and support for mental wellness and substance abuse, including mental health counseling, crisis stabilization, case management, residential treatment and more.

Could you use a little support?

Make an appointment online for same-day access or call us at 757-758-5106.

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