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.


6 comments on “The Fifth Month (or, MFA=Homelessness?)

  1. Jackie Uthus says:

    I have no idea about the 5 month rule but someone in some office some where should be able to answer your question! I was sad to see this post today as I thought you were squared away until Christmas at least. Love you!

  2. b rusen says:

    ugh, so sorry this is happening. i’ve never even heard of section 42 housing…i could have used it. i hope it works out.

    why don’t you stash your stuff in a storage unit, rather than pay the moving company $400 to hold it? some of them even have first month free or some such. you’d have to move it again, but renting a uhaul for a day isn’t that bad.

  3. b rusen says:

    also, maybe a real estate agent could help you find a place? they know of things that aren’t listed on CL and such.

  4. b rusen says:

    also, to add: i can understand why section 42 would be unavailable to full time students – they often have resources available to them that the general population don’t (ie, dorm housing, plus they’re in college full time to begin with, which automatically gives them a leg up on a lot of the population). however, this bullshit about having to wait five months is stupid. i’ll stop spamming you now.

    • amyuthus says:

      Hey Bethany, I found out more about the 5-month rule. It’s if you’ve been in school for five months out of the year, not five months from the date school finished, as I previously thought. So, since I was enrolled full-time from Jan-May (a perfect 5 months), I’m automatically disqualified for the entire remainder of the year. I would be eligible in January 2013.
      The Realtor suggestion is a good one, but I’ve already tried it 🙂 I’ve been working with a super nice guy who’s the reason I’m not homeless right now. He’s letting me stay in/rent this condo until the long-term people move in. I put in an application at another apartment today, with the same company that had the place I looked at yesterday in the neighborhood I wasn’t comfortable with. I thought I remembered the lady saying they had apartments available downtown in October. So, I called her and looked at one of them this morning. It’s super cute – blonde hardwood, nice big bay window overlooking the sculpture park and library, high ceilings, claw foot tub, etc etc. I loved it and am going to be super sad if my application gets rejected for some reason. I’ve never missed or been late on rent in my life, so hopefully she calls my references. The building felt safe, too. I noticed a few people left their bikes in the hall outside their doors, and others had put rugs in front of their doors. The bikes are a pretty big clue that the building is pretty safe, but the rugs made me insanely happy for some reason. Maybe because only people who care about where they live would do something like that, you know? It was the only place I’ve seen here so far where I’ve noticed that little touch.
      The application was pretty long, but that made me kind of happy too, because I feel like they care about who they let into their building. I definitely didn’t get that impression yesterday with the other company.
      Anyway, all ya’ll out there, please say some prayers for my application to be accepted!!!!!!!! Muchas gracias.

  5. […] much ado, I moved into my apartment in the middle of September. It’s tiny. The picture below shows […]

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