The top reason for homelessness is eviction. There are about 4,100 eviction judgments every day in the United States. But homelessness does not come only from legal evictions. It’s also from people fleeing domestic abuse, poor health, and breakdowns in relationships.
What Is An Eviction?
An eviction is a legal way where a landlord can remove a tenant from a rental property for non-payment. Other lease violations such as getting a pet without permission can also lead to one.
Evictions can stay on your record for up to seven years. Although it does not show up on your credit report, it can appear on other consumer reports. Getting approved for a lease after an eviction can be challenging, but it’s not impossible.
Understanding landlords are out there, but you’d have to look. Be mindful not to take advantage of their kindness, and do your best to pay on time consistently. If you don’t, it becomes difficult for those landlords to rent to others in the same situation.
Evictions and Homelessness
Not all homelessness is because of mental health issues or an addiction. Many people are homeless because they were evicted from their homes.
I have been through two evictions in all my years of renting. Each time, I felt lost and ashamed because of the stigma attached. Plus, I feared the homelessness that would soon follow. But in both cases, I found landlords who gave me another chance. And I’m thankful to this day for them.
Evictions and Mental Health
An eviction is a traumatizing, lengthy and stressful process. And it is incredibly stressful after the fact. Finding a place to live can take longer than usual, but it’s possible to rent again. It takes a toll on mental health.
I lost countless nights of sleep, wondering when the cops would show up to put me out on the streets. And countless nights wondering where I would go and what my next steps would be. I hoped for the better, though things were getting worse.
It was a depressing situation both times. You’ll need to be mentally healthy; I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. It was not a great feeling. Feelings of hopelessness slept in the bed next to me. Anxiety became my new best friend.
Many times I thought I would better off dead because of how embarrassed and helpless I felt. I felt like a failure and didn’t believe I was good enough. I thought I deserved what I was going through.
The First Eviction and Its Aftermath
It was 2005, about a year after moving out on my own and a few months after my first child’s birth. I had struggled to pay rent for months with my then-boyfriend. Neither of us knew anything about budgeting or saving. So, affording a $950/month one-bedroom apartment was out of our reach. That was our reality.
The eviction happened even though we fought to no avail to maintain a roof over our heads. I ended up homeless with a newborn baby for the first time in my life. Thankfully, a family member gave my baby and me a place to stay until I could get back on my feet.
Six months later, I found a decent and affordable $650/month two-bedroom apartment. It wasn’t all that, but it was a start. I lived there for three years before renting a $750/month two-bedroom apartment. It was more my style, and things were looking up. I had a stable job and stayed afloat. For the next seven years, all went well. Each time, I received my security deposits back.
I don’t remember if I paid off the balance owed or not. It’s a little blurry with the outcome on this one. Back then, I knew nothing about homeless prevention programs. Or unemployment or section 8 housing. I would learn about them later down the road.
The Second Eviction and Its Aftermath
It was 2012, and I was a transplant in Florida renting a 4-bedroom $1,400/month house. I thought I had a job lined up but found out the employment agency lied. There was no job. I didn’t do my homework and was caught off guard. Unemployment fell through, so there was no income coming in. Now I had two small children to feed and little savings.
Three months later, I faced my second round of eviction, now my second time being homeless. I had a new eviction on my record in a new state. And then the jobs I applied for didn’t come through until it was too late. One month more, that was all I needed.
Six months later, in early 2013, I found a $700/month two-bedroom apartment in a low-income community. It was small but manageable. I stayed there for three years before moving into a condo. And I thank God for my former landlord to this day; he was a lifesaver. Plus, I received my deposit back with no issues.
I ended up paying off this eviction before a condo association would approve me. My former landlord wrote a confirmation of payment letter, and that was enough to secure it. I lived at the condo for four years, and again, I had no issues getting my security deposit back.
Landlords are cautious of tenants with evictions and consider them a liability. Your rental history is an essential part of your application for a new apartment. Try to keep your record clean, although life happens. Landlords use it to confirm that you are a trustworthy tenant who consistently pays rent on time. Any adverse rental history can hurt your approval chances.
Evictions often lead to homelessness, and many times, it’s unavoidable. I have been homeless twice after two evictions. I know how it feels; it’s a punch in the gut. I’ll never forget my experience living in a car with two small children, though short-term. The events that followed would lead to blessings I did not see coming. But I’ll tell that story in another article.
Renting after an eviction is challenging but not impossible. You can find many places to rent, but it could take a while. There are landlords out there who understand your situation. Just be honest. You might have to live in a not-so-pleasant neighborhood, but it’s a start. Or you might have to pay more out of pocket for something more suitable. If you have options, it’s your choice.
Take care of your mental health. It is important. Going through an eviction can take a toll on you. Don’t stress if possible. The stigma surrounding evictions is one of shame and blame, so it’s hard. I understand how helpless you feel. It’s depressing, traumatizing, and the future ahead seems bleak. But keep your head up.
Have you ever been evicted? Did you have a hard time renting another place? Did you experience homelessness? How did you feel? What led to your eviction? If you have children, how did it affect them?
Please share your comments; I would love to hear your thoughts. Like, or share with your friends and family. Thank you for reading.