When Americans fall on hard times - due to the loss of a job, an illness, or other circumstance - the government provides assistance. Housing, food, and cash benefits are all components of the safety net designed to help Americans get back on their feet and prevent them from falling into deep poverty or homelessness.
Government Assistance With A Felony On Record
Many of these programs are overburdened and underfunded, and as a result, getting help when you need it is not always easy. For people who have a felony on their record, the process can be even more difficult to navigate, as eligibility requirements vary from state to state.
Here is an overview of government assistance program eligibility requirements for people who have a felony on their record:
Eligibility for Housing and Urban Development (HUD) housing, which includes public housing and Section 8, is determined on a case-by-case basis. These programs are reserved for people with low income, and have very long waiting lists.
Nationally, those who are lifetime registered sex offenders and those who were convicted of certain drug-related crimes are banned from receiving assistance, and local housing authorities have the option to impose further restrictions.
As a result, even if you were not convicted of sex or drug crimes, there is no single answer to whether you are eligible for housing assistance if you have a felony on your record.
In Oklahoma, both the Tulsa Housing Authority (THA) and Oklahoma City Housing Authority (OCHA) have been known to consider an applicant's pattern of past arrests regardless of conviction, as well as other undisclosed factors, when deciding whether to grant assistance.
Food assistance to those who have a low income relative to their household size is provided via the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP). SNAP recipients get a monthly disbursement of funds on an electronic card like a debit card, that can be used to purchase SNAP-approved food items.
The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1996, which established the current federal regulations on benefits, prohibits states from giving SNAP benefits to people with drug-related felonies unless specific state legislation is passed to extend SNAP benefits to them.
In Oklahoma, people with a felony on their record are able to apply for SNAP benefits, regardless of the type of felony.
• People with drug-related felonies in the following states are NOT eligible for SNAP benefits:
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia
• People with felonies, including drug-related felonies, in the following states and the District of Columbia ARE eligible for SNAP benefits:
Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Wyoming
• People with drug-related felonies in the following states ARE eligible for SNAP benefits only after meeting additional requirements which vary by state:
California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Wisconsin
Cash assistance, or what has traditionally been known as "welfare," is now provided under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. As its name implies, only those who have at least one dependent child are eligible for this program.
The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1996 prohibits states from providing TANF to anyone convicted of a drug-related felony. However, states are able to modify or opt-out of the ban.
Some states have opted out of the ban altogether while some have imposed caveats.
In Oklahoma, people with a felony on their record are able to apply for TANF, regardless of the type of felony.
• People with drug-related felonies in the following states are NOT eligible for TANF:
Alabama, Alaska, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Mississippi, Nebraska, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, West Virginia
• People with felonies, including drug-related felonies, in the following states ARE eligible for TANF:
Kansas, Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wyoming
• People with drug-related felonies in the following states ARE eligible for TANF, provided they meet additional requirements, which vary by state:
Arkansas, California, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin
Navigating life after a felony conviction is difficult - we're here to help! Contact Clean Slate Lawyers with your questions about pardons, expungements, and criminal defense in the state of Oklahoma to be connected to an experienced Oklahoma expungment lawyer.