My Quest for Housing

Cartoon House

Stefano A/Flickr

I am an Oregon attorney recently transplanted to the District. I arrived here in February with $10,000 in the bank and no job. I was told by several commercial residential property managers [that] without a job I would not pass a credit check and should save the application fee until I got a job.

In the D.C. metro area, credit checks establish that you have at least double the income of the proposed rent. No job? Then you need to establish that you have at least a year’s income in the bank. Don’t have it? Then, as one property manager told me, you need to have a co-signer with at least double that amount in the bank – about $48,000.00.

With average rents for small apartments closer to $1,500 per month, even $48,000 is a conservative figure – is it any wonder that there are so many homeless people in the area?

Fortunately for me, an Oregon friend of mine had a house recently vacated by her tenants. Would I like to house-sit for her? With few options, I gladly accepted the responsibility until I found a job reviewing documents through an alumni connection.

In a series of articles, I will share what I have learned in the last few months. As a three time honoree for my pro bono services in Oregon and Washington with years of representing low and moderate means clients, I will be writing about housing options available for those without the resources to pass such a credit check. As a volunteer at a local legal clinic, I will also be describing the resources available to find housing and otherwise survive in a city with so many challenges.

Tim Farrell is a member of the D.C. Bar Association along with the bars of Ohio, Oregon, Washington, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. When not reviewing documents, his practice focuses on [maritime] litigation. He has several legal publications to his credit.

Issues |Housing

Region |Washington DC

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We believe ending homelessness begins with listening to the stories of those who have experienced it.