My name is Karen Chapman, I'm a 60 year old widowed parent of a high school senior in Westchester County, NY. I am now on disability and my daughter and I are having a serious problem finding an apartment in this area, as explained below.
Our Background: My husband died of cancer two and half years after adopting our daughter, and my financial issues became difficult after I lost my house to foreclosure during the housing crash after 2008 (along with hundreds of thousands of other American families).
My daughter, Faith, will be graduating from high school this June, and she has been accepted at SUNY Purchase College as a freshman this fall. The State University of New York (SUNY) college system offers free tuition to state residents who meet certain income requirements. Faith is very excited about attending Purchase. Our plan is for Faith to continue living with me and commute to Purchase everyday. It is 20 minutes from our current residence. It is the only way for her to attend college without taking on massive student loan debt.
Our Predicament: We must move from the apartment where we currently live. I have been on full disability since December 2017 and can no longer afford the rent here. Our lease is up at the end of June and we must move by then. Since the beginning of this year, I have been looking for a less expensive apartment within a reasonable commuting distance to Purchase. I have called dozens of apartment listings and spoken with many real estate brokers. The first question I am asked, every single time, is "what is your credit score." When I cannot say it is excellent, the conversation ends. I cannot even see an apartment without an excellent credit score. No landlord in our area - even in very undesirable neighborhoods - will rent to anyone with less than a 650 or 700 FICO score. Because of losing my house to foreclosure, I don't have that. My problem is not finding an affordable apartment, but finding a landlord that will rent to me.
To get to the point: I cannot rent an apartment in this area without an excellent credit score. I tried to get help from every "affordable" housing agency, etc., that exists in this area. None can help me, and mostly because they have full and closed waiting lists. At the clinic where I get treatment I am assigned a case manager, a social worker who is there to assist with things like medical insurance issues and housing. She has placed me on every waiting list for affordable housing that she can find or that offer housing to folks with disabilities.The case manager has advised me that my only option if I cannot find an apartment on my own will be to go to a shelter. After everything we have been through, I do not want my daughter to live in a shelter and try to have a successful college experience. After working hard as a legal secretary for 40 years without a break and doing nothing to cause this predicament, I do not want to live in a homeless shelter, especially when I have the cash and the monthly income to rent an apartment.
Why I Am Asking For Money: If I can get together enough money to pay for an entire year's rent in advance, perhaps some landlord will forgive the credit score issue and rent us an apartment. Because of a lump sum payment I recently received from the SSA, I have about half of what I would need. If I do meet my go fund me goal, and still cannot find a landlord to rent to me, I will use the money to house Faith on campus and I will do what I can for myself. My goal is to raise another $10,000, and I would need this money either by June (for an apartment) or by August (for Faith's on campus housing, which is $14K a year).
In Closing: Family members have suggested that I move to a less expensive state. Faith has friends here, she is excited about attending Purchase, and in another state we will not receive free college tuition for her. She has a good life here and I will not rip her from the life she knows after all the losses she has incurred. I myself must retain NY State residency in order for Faith to qualify for the free NYS tuition.
Faith has not had an easy life. She was abandoned at six weeks of age and spent her first year in a poor Chinese orphanage. Her father was diagnosed with cancer five months after we adopted her and died when she was three. His absence in her life has not only affected us financially but Faith has grown up without the benefit of having not only a father, but a man who was a loving and committed father.
I humbly and sincerely hope that the kind people of this world who read this can each contribute a little to our housing fund so that my daughter can get the college education she dreams of, and that everyone who comes across this story shares it with others. There are no words for how grateful I am for every little bit of help given to us, because with each donation we will know that there are people who care and want to see Faith succeed. I have done my best for her as a mother and Faith has turned out to be a really terrific person. She is honest, loving, caring, funny, and always tries to do the right thing. With a good, stress free college education while living in a secure environment, she will achieve good things and contribute in important ways to the world.
If anyone has any questions or would like to speak to me for any reason, please contact me through the contact information on GoFundMe. I am happy to answer any questions.
Thank you for reading our story and God Bless each of you.