The Fifth Month (or, MFA=Homelessness?)

It’s 5:21am and I’ve been awake since about 3:00, worrying about my housing situation. I’ve given up trying to sleep and am now just trying to kill time until I can start calling landlords again.

Some genius in the government decided to make a rule declaring all full-time students, including those who’ve recently graduated, ineligible for section 42 housing. Section 42 is low-income/tax credit housing. It’s not like section 8 where rent is personalized, based on how much money each individual renter makes; it’s a fixed amount per month for everyone in the building – renters just can’t make over the income cap. (There are two different income caps with two different associated rates in each building.) I can understand why they don’t want students who might be getting scholarships and such to be taking advantage of the program, but recent grads? Really? I know of exactly zero rich recent graduate students. And even if there are some out there, they still wouldn’t qualify if they made more than the income cap… right? I feel like I’m missing something.

From what I can tell, this type of housing would be perfect for me for the next one or two years – I’m in transition and will be making not gobs of money but would like to live in a safe place.  The application is 15 pages long, so I feel like it would be hard for creepers to get in, and all of the buildings I’ve seen are well-maintained and appear to be well-managed.

However, because I’ve graduated in the past 5 months, I’m still considered a full-time student, and am thus ineligible for this type of housing. Why is this a problem? Well, all of the affordable housing near where I’ll be working seems to be section 42, with one noteworthy exception. I was planning on making a deposit on an apartment in that particular building tomorrow later this morning, but the fact that I’ve been awake all night, dreading moving there, has gotten me thinking that I should dream up some other options. (It’s a total dive. Yes, I might have under-exaggerated its charms to you, Mom.)

To be fair, I’ve spent a good deal of time looking for apartments well outside of the area I want to live (downtown, near the studio). I’ve called and/or emailed more than 20 places, most of them multiple times, but I’ve only heard back from 5. Of the five, two were way too expensive, one was a half-hour drive away, one was in a bad neighborhood, and the last guy flat out refused to let me see the apartment after he grilled me about my job. He didn’t like that I hadn’t been employed at RDG the last 6 months. I just moved into town. I’m not sure how it would have been possible for me to have been working at a local company for the past 6 months…

At any rate, the main issue is that my moving truck is on its way across the US as we speak. It’ll be here by the end of the week and I have no idea where to dump my stuff. Right now I’m thinking I should continue living in this condo owned by a friend of a friend of a friend, pay the moving company $400 to hold my things for a month, and then pray that the 5-month rule means I can apply during the fifth month, not after the fifth month. There’s one building that has openings in October, and I’m hoping I could get accepted there.

The schedule would be really tight – the long-term renters for this condo are moving in on the 26th. I’m going back to NDSU to be a visiting artist (thanks for the invite, Dave!) on the 28th or 29th, and I’ll be back on the 7th. That would give me between 0 and 3 days to get my stuff moved out of the truck, depending on how kind the moving company is. They seem pretty nice, so I think I can hope for 3. This plan would work, but it all hinges on how the 5-month rule is interpreted… does anyone out there know? I graduated in May.