When Dandelion started looking for low-income housing, many people told her that all the wait lists were closed, or would take five years. Luckily, she didn’t listen. Dandelion went on an epic quest to find housing, found THIRTY open wait lists, applied FIFTEEN places, and got nice, affordable housing in less than a year. Dandelion wanted to share her story to help others:
Dandelion’s Housing Quest
Everyone told me that the waiting lists are all closed and it would take me 5-10 years to get low housing. But it was not true. It did not take me ten years. Or five years. Or one year. It took six months.
I was in a bad situation and really desperate to find a place to live, so I decided to just try everything no matter how many places turned me down.
It was not easy to do. But it was worth it. The apartment I am in now is nice, clean, safe, well-maintained, quiet, disability accessible, and very affordable.
Finding Places to Apply For
I have difficulty making phone calls, and I am sometimes too sick to sit up and fill out forms, so a friend helped me.
We called 70 different buildings and agencies. Some of them didn’t answer the phone or return calls, so we had to try many times. We made more than 200 calls, and filled out so much paperwork I could not believe it.
Here is where we found a long, long list of Places to Call When You are Looking for Affordable Housing.
How We Called
We knew from the very beginning that most people would tell us there was no hope, so when that happened, I was not upset or disappointed. If I got disappointed each time I was told “no,” the whole thing would have been soul-crushing. I told myself that the “no’s” are just part of the process, and we ignored them.
Along the way, we discovered that there are many different ways to get on Section 8. Here’s some examples of times we were told “no” but figured out how to get on a waiting list anyway! Dandelion Finds Thirty Waiting Lists
Deciding Where to Apply
We found a total of over 30 places with open waiting lists, but I did not apply everywhere. I applied to 15 different places.
Some places were too far away or too expensive, and some I found some really bad comments about from tenants, so I did not apply.
Other places I thought “I will probably never actually live here,” but I was desperate, so I decided to apply anyway because I wanted as many options as possible. It does not hurt to apply because you can always turn it down!
I was not able to visit places in person, but we looked up each place on Google street view and also searched the address on Google images and also searched the name of the building on Google and google images and Facebook. I also called and talked to the housing manager. Visiting would have been better, but I did find out quite a bit!
I especially asked each place if they ever got noise complaints from people who could hear their neighbors talking, walking, tv, radio, etc. I wanted a really quiet place, so I explained I was disabled and noise triggered my symptoms. Some apartment managers were upfront right away and told me that the walls were thin and there were frequent noise complaints.
These are some of the questions we asked to housing managers and agencies: Questions About Housing Waiting Lists
Where We Applied
🌷 I mostly applied directly to buildings, not to Housing Authorities.
🌷 My favorite place to apply was “elderly properties” – even though they said seniors only, about half of them accepted households of any age as long as there was at least one adult with a disability. In my area, these were all really nice! You would never even guess they were low income housing! Elderly or disabled apartments
🌷 I applied for some “Section 8 multi family properties”. I found these on the HUD map. These are buildings all low income people can apply to. Even though it says “family” single people can apply. You do not need a voucher. In my area some of these were not that nice or were loud.
🌷 Hint: Some buildings have a mix of different types of apartments with different types of funding that charge different rent. If they tell you the rent, and it seems high always ask: “Do you have any apartments subsidized by HUD?”
🌷 I also applied for Housing Vouchers at Housing Authorities. At first, everyone told me that all the housing vouchers were closed and there was no way to even get on the waiting list. Not true! We kept calling and eventually I got on four different waiting lists for vouchers.
🌷 I also looked into public housing. These are buildings owned by Housing Authorities. I did wind up applying, because I’ve heard too many bad stories, but they do have cheap housing that way and may be good option in some cases.
🌷 We also found several USDA Housing apartments that looked nice in the photos. They were all in rural areas, so too far for me, but I think would be good for other people.
How We Applied
I was not able to apply in person, so I did all applications by mail or email. It did take longer this way and I needed help from a friend because there was a lot of paperwork, printing and mailing.
Most places had no problem taking an application by mail, I just said “Due to my disability, I cannot come in person. Can I please receive the application by mail or email.”
A few places did not want to do this, so I had a short letter from my doctor stating that traveling to their office would worsen my disability symptoms and requesting an Accommodation to Apply by Mail or Email
After applying, I emailed and asked for written confirmation that I was on the list. A few months later, I called each place to check in. Good thing I called, because one place never added me to the list! I had written confirmation, so was able to get back on in my original spot.
I also kept up a list of everywhere we had called with a closed waiting list. Each place we called, we had asked them: when their waiting list might open, how long ago it was last open, and about how often it usually opens. Most places would not release specifics, but gave me some info that was still generally helpful.
I kept this information so that I could keep calling back each of these places until something opened. As it turned out, I haven’t needed to do this, but if you are in an area with less opportunity, it’s might be helpful to keep calling back every month or every other month any places that seem like possibilities.
How Things Turned Out
Four months after applying… We got three different phone calls from three different agencies! I came up on all three waiting lists at once.
Now I had a new problem! I actually had to choose where to live. All three were Section 8, so the rent would be the same no matter what.
Two of the wait lists were for properties and one was for a voucher. I couldn’t believe I was offered a voucher in just four months.
I went and visited the property that was closest to me. It was everything I wanted, so I took it! This was much easier than having to get a voucher and then find a landlord, because of my health. I turned down the voucher.
Although I got to the top of the waiting list in four months, there was still a lot more paperwork and this took more time. The whole process (from when I first started looking to when I actually moved in) took a little over six months.
My New Place
My new place is simple, quiet, safe, clean, comfortable, well-maintained, disability accessible, and nice management. It is a little, sweet one bedroom apartment in a small one-story building. My apartment is in the back where there are trees and birds and flowers and mountains. I rarely see or hear any of my neighbors.
It’s about two miles from a town that has doctors, thrift stores, markets, library, post office, etc, and twenty miles from a city with hospitals. There is also a bookmobile from the library, free transportation to the grocery store, and a little community center I never go to, but some people go and there is bingo and potlucks and yard sales there.
Tools for Troublemakers
Thanks for Reading
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