Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Nifty Catch-22

Trey Smith

Here is an interesting situation Della and I have found ourselves in. As I think I've mentioned before, we are in the process of trying to find a place to land BEFORE the foreclosure of our home is finalized and we are tossed out onto the street like yesterday's garbage. Because I am disabled and it looks like Della will be too, the only income we can expect for the near future is in the form of government disability checks. For those of you who are not disabled, let me give you a hint. It means we will be dirt poor for the foreseeable future.

There is no use crying about it. It is what it is.

Since we're going to be of severely limited means -- probably no more than $1000 per month -- we need to find very inexpensive housing. In our state, as in most others, there is subsidized housing for really poor people, particularly the elderly and disabled. In order to qualify to live in such housing, a person's or family's income must be below the federal poverty line. In fact, for a lot of these apartments, your income must be 30, 50 or as much as 80 percent below. If your monthly income is 80 percent below the federal poverty line, then, by definition, this means you have almost no excess money to spend beyond your meager expenses.

Amazingly, many of the senior and disabled apartment complexes charge a nonrefundable fee simply to apply to be placed on a waiting list! Some charge a very nominal fee, but for others it can be as high as $100 for a couple. As mentioned in the previous paragraph, you have to be very poor to be able to apply to these places and being very poor means that $100 is about as unrealistic as charging $1 million!!!

As Della opined, this smacks of being some kind of legal racket. Let's say your management company charges $50 per application. If 100 people apply in a year, you've pocketed $5000. And for what? Providing applications!

But that's not all. As your name nears the top of the waiting list, they will want to run a background check on you and there is a fee for that too. Again, sometimes as high as $50/person. And so, even before you have the opportunity to move in, if you are a couple, you may have had to shell out as much as $200.

There's more.  Because some units have very long waiting lists, a lot of impoverished seniors and the disabled can't put all their eggs in one basket.  If the nearest complex has a waiting list that is 1 year or more -- not uncommon at all in suburban and urban areas -- chances are that an individual or couple will apply to two, three or four places.  If two or more of these housing units charge a nonrefundable fee plus the fee for the background check[s], we're now looking at an outlay of around $400!

The obvious problem here is that, if you have a family budget in which you can somehow swallow $200 - $400 or more, then you probably aren't poor enough to qualify in the first place.  If you're poor enough to apply in the first place, then you probably won't have the requisite $200 - $400 or more.

That's the very definition of a classic catch-22. 

Fortunately, there are several of these outfits that do not charge an application fee -- most of these are in faraway rural locations. While this may prove problematic for a lot of folks, that part doesn't bother us. We want to live in a small town, albeit a small town with or near a hospital. So, we're in the process of applying for housing in such places in rural Washington as Dayton, Roslyn, Tieton, Colfax, Omak, Ephrata, Westport and many points in between.

We probably will apply to one of the places that charges the nonrefundable application fee: Ilwaco. Why Ilwaco? It's in our present county, near the ocean and, since it's only 45 miles from South Bend, it would be a heck of a lot cheaper to move to.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are unmoderated, so you can write whatever you want.