Recovering From Deadbeat Roommate
I'm asking for money to pay my rent and bills after a manipulative roommate racked up several months of unpaid rent and bills, bailed on my offers to get him a new job, and left me facing potential eviction both from the unpaid bills and the conditions he left the house. I am an activist, organizer, and maritime worker. Being unable to remain financially solvent would seriously disrupt my life and organizing, likely cost my job, and cause me to have to relocate to my rural hometown for an unknown amount of time.
For the past couple of months (starting in January), a roommate of mine has been consistently paying less for rent than we agreed, as well as skimping on bills. This roommate already had a lower burden than me- when he moved in, I recognized that his job paid less than mine, and allowed that he should only pay 400 of the 900/month rent. From the time he moved in, these payments were often late, but always came in. He left the place ver messy all the time and had more friends over than I'd like, but this didn't bother me too much during the working months, because my job has extremely long hours and I am rarely at home. Then, when 2017 began, and for the first two months I got only 300 from him.
This was originally explained as a temporary hardship, which would be repaid. I patiently waited to be repaid, as this roommate began a new relationship with a young mother. He then quit his job to "look after his girlfriend", which meant, in practice, that he would not be pulling his weight and expecting me to pay for them. The woman and child the moved in without anyone consulting me. He first explained it as them "crashing for a bit". "A bit" turned into more time, until eventually between my long shifts on the water, I noticed that this person was effectively living in my house. The deadbeat roommate had done this before, some months earlier, with a friend of his, who he moved in through the same slow, manipulative process. That friend had turned out to be a thief and been kicked out. At that time, I had a conversation with the roommate about him letting people like that friend use him, and my roommate said he felt like the "friend" had manipulated and bullied him into living in our house. As his new girlfriend moved in this Spring, I began to realize that I was the one being used- and my house was turning into a squat. Not only were the rent and bills being shouldered solely by me, but I had no control over my own house- a crowd of this roommates' "friends" would come and go at all hours, bringing people into my home who I did not know or want, often doing this only when I was away at work. Soon, he had moved in another "friend"- a disabled man who he invited to live in our basement and whose children I only found out about when coming home from a long shift and finding them in my arm chair. It was only *after* this man "moved in" that my roommate admitted that his disabled "friend" was homeless and would be out of the street if I evicted him.
I told my roommate that this invasion of my house was absolutely unacceptable, and offered him a chance to turn his life around and start contributing, especially as my rent was going to *his* uninvited friends. Throughout March and April I referred him to several job opportunities. He did not find a job at any of them- he tells me he applied, but I have no evidence of this. I do know that he was smoking weed even after knowing that some of the jobs I offered him required drug testing. When the end of April came with no rent payment and myself at the end of my rope financially, I demanded this roommate pay his full rent at the end of May, find a job, and begin paying me back the substantial sum of money that he now owed me. With a week left in the month, the roommate is moving out prematurely to another place to crash it, is still unemployed, and describes himself as "beyond broke". It has become apparent that he does not intend to repay the debt, and does not seem to care that this puts me at risk of homelessness and unemployment. Since I last asked him about his debt to me on May 19th, he has been avoiding me and refuses to answer my calls or messages.
Meanwhile, due to the kind of person my roommate associates himself with, my house has attracted a rotating crowd of individuals which I fear is bringing police attention to my house. On top of this, the disabled man has not yet found other housing, so even if I manage to financially recover, I have to make the choice between helping this man find other housing somewhere, or throwing him out onto the street. My deadbeat roommate, who invited this man into the house without asking me, has not offered to shoulder the responsibility of keeping him from being homeless. I am committed, as much as I can be, to helping this man find some other housing rather than kicking him out- the situations isn't his fault.
At this time, I deeply regret not having put my foot down sooner. It is apparent that this individual is planning on not paying his debt to me, or is simply unable to as he seems incapable of finding work or of finding lenders who trust him enough to loan him the large sum of money I am owed. Unfortunately, this puts me in a terrible place financially, because despite working 60-84 hours a week, I am almost broke from months of supporting these individuals who chose to break their trust with me. I am potentially facing eviction and homelessness, both from their failure to pull their own weight, and from the flagrant violations of our lease that they have engaged in. Breaking my lease would cost me $2700 on top of the costs of trying to find a new place to live, hopefully without disrupting my work schedule too much, which makes moving difficult.
I am not sure what to do, but I am exploring options. I am committed at all costs to not have to move back in with family, which would almost certainly mean leaving the metro, losing my job, and returning to rural Minnesota to try to re-launch my career. This would mean nearly a half-decade of organizing work, including over what's now my third season a river worker, severely disrupted. To avoid that, I am trying to raise enough money to become financially stable while saving what I can by cutting back on spending. The amount I'm asking for here is less than half of what the roommate owes me (probably around $2500), but it is equal to my monthly rent and will give me time to stabilize, recover, and hopefully pursue the money he owes me.
With the money this has raised, I'm going to be able to keep my house and job, keep the lights on, and keep organizing. Hopefully within a month, we'll be able to find the dependent house guest transitional housing as well, and myself a trusted roommate with a steady job. Thanks to everyone who's been helping us make connections for that to happen.
Regarding my roommate, it's important to reflect that accountability doesn't require malice or ill will. Since this went up, he's resumed contacting me about the situation and agreed to talk about the money in a way that will hopefully allow everyone to get a fresh start, including making sure that our other house guest doesn't end up homeless. I'm not going to speculate on the problems he might be struggling with besides this, but hopefully we can all see brighter futures ahead of us.
If people are still feeling generous, one of my bigger frustrations for months has been that I have a long-delayed pledge to the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Conmittee that I just haven't been able to pay with everything else going on. I hope to pay it in the future, but it'd be great if people would donate right now. IWOC does amazing work on the front lines of exploitation, in the face of severe repression, and is always in need of money because prisoners cannot pay dues. Please send any further donations to them!
I've got confirmation from multiple people close to the roommate, that he's actively avoiding me and trying to get other people not to tell me where he is. He doesn't need to worry- I'm not going to hurt him. But, if you know who he is and you see him, tell him he needs to come around when I'm home if he wants to move his stuff out- nobody here is letting him in when I'm at work.