Worried in Chicago
January 21, 2014 8:04 AM   Subscribe

Today my father (who I live with; I'm 22) woke me up by banging on my door loudly and yelling at me. He made serious physical threats and destroyed some of my computer equipment. I'm at a loss for what to do.

The obvious goal is to move out. I have a job but I make barely $800/mo at it. I live in Chicago, where this can pay rent and food in a 2BR or 3BR, but then any sudden expenses would bankrupt me. None of my friends are able to accommodate an extra long-term roommate right now.

I've long-since given up the idea of negotiating with my father. He's repeatedly demonstrated a lack of empathy in all areas, to all people.

What are my options? How do I leave quickly and on a low budget, in the middle of winter?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (23 answers total)
Get a better-paying (or a second, similarly-poorly-paying) job. I moved out of my parents' house at 17, it dramatically improved my relationship with them.
posted by Oktober at 8:05 AM on January 21, 2014 [6 favorites]

Can you take a second job, bartending or delivering pizza or something, in your off-hours? Because basically, you've described a situation in which you need to make more money in order to secure your personal safety, so that should be your first goal.

In the short-term, could one of your friends (or several of your friends) accommodate an extra short-term roommate for a few days or a week, so that you can move out now and then have a little extra time to find a new place?

Finally, there is always the option of calling the police when someone threatens you and breaks objects in a way that makes you fear for your safety. The police will come, and your father may even be required to stay away from you (to the point of moving out of his own house while you remain living there) while the case is pending. But just so you know, once you call the police, the outcome is out of your hands. You won't be able to drop the charges later (that's a decision made by the police and then the prosecutor), and you could be forced to testify against your father, who could face serious penalties. (I say that not to discourage you from calling the police if you fear for your safety, but only because a lot of people don't know it, and they're really upset down the line when the outcome is not what they expected.) But if you need help and feel unsafe, calling the police is always an option, and it may allow you to remain in the home safely while you figure out your next steps.
posted by decathecting at 8:11 AM on January 21, 2014 [5 favorites]

The physical threats and destruction of your property are domestic violence. This is the contact information for the City of Chicago's Domestic Violence Helpline. They can help you put together a plan to leave safely and can point you to resources that may be available to help you. If you are not feeling safe, please stay elsewhere, even if it's for just a couple of days. Good luck to you.
posted by goggie at 8:12 AM on January 21, 2014 [26 favorites]

Could your friends accommodate you for, like, a week each? I think that if your father is making serious physical threats, you need to leave right now. If you explained to your friends that you feel physically unsafe and asked them if they could each put you up for a [short time] on a rotating basis while you find a longer term place to stay, would that be possible? When one of my friends has been semi-homeless, this is how it has worked because no one had a spare room.

Once you're out, you can look for a second job, look for a roommate situation, etc. Are you on food stamps?

Another option would be to call a domestic violence shelter.

Also, you may qualify for some youth services - many stop at age 21, but others continue through 25. A domestic violence shelter would probably be able to list which ones.
posted by Frowner at 8:13 AM on January 21, 2014 [3 favorites]

Please please contact Chicago's domestic violence helpline as linked above. In the short term, you need to find a place to stay, which the helpline can direct you to, but you'll also need a place to store your things, which is one of the biggest barriers to seeking help. ("But what about all my stuff?") Don't let it be a barrier. There are probably Mefites in the Chicago area who can help you store some or all of your stuff temporarily so you can get to safety without worrying that everything you own is going to get destroyed. Heck, I can probably take a few Rubbermaid bins, temporarily. Other Chicago Mefites should definitely speak up. Can you contact the mods and have them append your question with an anonymous email to contact you?
posted by juniperesque at 8:41 AM on January 21, 2014 [5 favorites]

Move out, sometime today or maybe tomorrow. Be OK with leaving your shit. Find a place with roommates (it's all you can afford), but while you're looking, work the system for as much free food and lodging as you can so you have time to find a good place.

If the system doesn't have anything for you (very possible if you're male), crash on friends' sofas but try to make an internal deadline of a month (or two weeks, or whatever) to find a new place. They will very likely be OK helping out, but you will eventually become a burden. Pay them back by cooking for them, cleaning, walking the dog, and/or doing dishes.

To replace clothes left behind: go to thrift stores. You can find something that fits and looks good for $3, guaranteed, in any city in America.

To replace electronics: you probably carry your phone with you everywhere, so that won't be left behind. Libraries for computer use until you can save up for a $300 laptop, which will be enough for productivity (working on your resume, applying to jobs and colleges, etc.).

To replace everything else: don't sweat it, you probably had too much stuff anyway. (Apologies if that particular tone/response isn't helpful; it would be for me.)
posted by jsturgill at 8:50 AM on January 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

OP:: "where this can pay rent and food in a 2BR or 3BR"

Is there a reason you're not looking at studios and 1br right now, just to get out? Or roommates via craigslist or something?
posted by Grither at 8:51 AM on January 21, 2014 [4 favorites]

Is there a reason you're not looking at studios and 1br right now, just to get out?

I think the OP is saying that $800/mo could pay rent on a room within a 2BR or 3BR, not that it would pay for the whole apartment.
posted by Dasein at 8:52 AM on January 21, 2014 [7 favorites]

Definitely call the domestic violence hotline, but contact city services at 311, as well. They can assist with determining whether you're eligible for other emergency temporary housing and connect you with social services, like food assistance, low income transit assistance. Chicago still permits single room occupancy hotels (although there are not as many as we once had)--perhaps you can line one of those up while you search for an apartment to share? The Cook County Sheriff maintains a list of SROs, and Lakeview Action Coalition, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless and the Single Room Housing Assistance Corporation should be able to assist with that or direct you to people who can assist with that.

Alternately, see if you can set up a couch-surfing schedule with your friends (a schedule with definite begin/end dates is best--I did this for a suddenly homeless friend just after college) and see if you can arrange for a friend to store any really critical possessions (like juniperesque says, you can probably get mefites to store stuff--again, agree to a firm removal date and stick to it).

Pack as much as you can into a duffel bag or suitcase and go. You make enough for a roommate/houseshare in Chicago, make sure you're working your social networks for friends of friends needing roommates. Once you're out of the house, look into supplementing your income with more hours, a second job, a better job, or services.
posted by crush-onastick at 9:08 AM on January 21, 2014

I'm in Chicago and currently at work. If you are willing to memail me, please do so. I can't reply in more detail until after 5pm. If you haven't responded, I will go ahead and make a longer post here.
posted by AlexiaSky at 9:21 AM on January 21, 2014

Couch surf where you can temporarily, while you look for a second job and a roommate situation.

There are things that will suck about being on your own and short of money, but you will sleep well at night because you won't be afraid anymore.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:22 AM on January 21, 2014

211 is a national number that connects you to a hotline of local resources. They may not be able to help with immediate housing, but they can point you I'm the direction of LOTS of other resources. Food, counseling, job search tools.

Get yourself to a safe place today. Get help with food and other expenses. Get a second job.
posted by bilabial at 9:37 AM on January 21, 2014

Have you told your friends what's going on? Because if you told me that and you were my friend, you'd be sleeping on my very tiny living room floor that very night.
posted by cnc at 10:40 AM on January 21, 2014 [4 favorites]

I have a friend (south side) who has a roommate situation open - memail if you want me to put you in touch.
posted by anotherthink at 10:59 AM on January 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

Don't discount the possibility of finding low-income housing with subsidized rent. Such things exist for adults, and you are an adult.

As for the middle of winter: that sucks, because very few apartments will be available out of cycle, but is also good, because landlords with an out-of-cycle rental will be desperate to fill the space -- especially if you'll accept a lease that puts the unit back on-cycle.
posted by davejay at 11:00 AM on January 21, 2014

@davejay low income and subsided housing is extremely difficult to obtain in Chicago. CHA has an 5-8 year waiting list for the lottery that happened last time when waitlist was actually open. Other subsided programs she doesn't currently qualify for because she is not currently homeless. Though staying in a shelter for one night would qualify her for other programs.

Dv can reduce wait times but the documentation required varies. Chicago central referal is the central waitlist. You can select dv as s way to find particular options. Direct2housing.org is another resource, but the crs is the Central referral for multiple programs in the city. There are other programs running seperate lists. But you have to hunt for them.

Sarah's Inn is a good resource and shelter. They provide a lot of good services And may be able to assist with as housing search and safety planning. Sometimes they have financial assistance but it varies on budget and need. Lutherian social services, catholic charities, Jewish family services and heartland alliance all offer some sort of services for dv but I cannot vouch for how specialized their services are.

Jobs for youth is a job program that may be able to provide assistance in increasing income. However last time I checked a few years ago you did need to attend a job program training which may not be possible with your work schedule. The training sometimes is paid but it depends on grants and funding.

I can provide more resources through memail if you are comfortable and have a very specific need.
posted by AlexiaSky at 11:28 AM on January 21, 2014

911. Wacked parent will either continue the rage when the police arrive; or go on a new one and be carried away. No way should you tolerate the destruction of your property; let alone the 21st century equivalent of your work tools.

Move out next time he's gone. He'll miss you hard in the future.

Dad could be going through some hormonal changes as he ages. Still no reason for the breakage or verbal abuse.

FWIW; peace corp, military, full time college in a dorm, ... there are a lot of places full of good people that flat out decided to leave the old life behind and grow beyond it.

Document, email yourself the days events, video, or audio record... if this is a repeating pattern; as aboves, get out. It will probably suck for a while; but a year or so, more so in five years, you might look back at leaving as the best thing you ever did for yourself.
posted by buzzman at 11:32 AM on January 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you are male, the Metro Chicago YMCA is one of the few Y's in the country that still provides large-scale housing for men. If you qualify, you will be in a clean, safe, private single room with shared bathroom and kitchen, and can receive a bundle of other assistance with getting on your feet. As a low-income young adult fleeing an abusive home situation, it is likely that you will qualify for housing, but I don't know how long their wait list is. Call call Michelle Collins, Resident Director, at 773.481.6900 ext.101 for more info.
posted by anastasiav at 11:41 AM on January 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Try craigslist for a place to live? http://chicago.craigslist.org/roo/
posted by czytm at 11:47 AM on January 21, 2014

You don't really explain why your father did that. I feel like that situation with your father could be what you need advice on. And what about other family -- mom or aunts/uncles who can help?

That said, a lot of people live paycheck to paycheck and would be screwed in case of some major emergency. In that situation, you could get a loan or something. If your safety or well being requires you spend your money on rent, you should probably do that. If you look hard enough, I'm sure you will be able to find something you can afford. Everyone wants to save money, but that's not always possible. Save what you can and spend what you need to.

You may not have friends who can do a long-term roommate, but you could couch surf for a little while via short stints until you can find a living situation that is workable.
posted by AppleTurnover at 11:47 AM on January 21, 2014

A FYI the YMCA application process is rather strict. Rent is around 425 I think. But they may reduce it to 30 percent of your income. I don't remember the exact rules.
posted by AlexiaSky at 11:48 AM on January 21, 2014

Some school dormitories in the US allow people to stay there. The "rent" is cheap, it was like 8 per day at my school in New York. You'd have a bed, a shower, and utilities paid. It's also warm and you'd be in a room by yourself. It's usually larger universities that do this because they have more empty rooms.

I'm not sure how to find out about this except contact individual schools.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 7:48 AM on January 22, 2014

Get out. Now. As fast as you can. This is abuse pure and simple and it virtually always escalates. There are shelters and resources available to help you get away from abuse--Chicago mefites have already pointed you to numbers to call.

If you were my friend and had told me this I'd already be on my way to your place to help you pack whatever's important, and you'd be sleeping on my sofa tonight.

I am willing to bet your friends are your friends and no matter the inconvenience they don't want to see their friend abused. Whether it's bouncing from friend to friend for a while or someone hanging a sheet in the living room by their sofa to give you some privacy, your friends are there for you and I am sure will help you in any way they can.

Send out an email to your closest friends outlining what has happened, the steps you are taking (311, DV hotline, etc), and asking for any help they can provide within reason to help you get out and get back onto your feet as fast as possible.

Worst comes to worst, pack a bag and get on a bus and come to Toronto. My sofa is big and you can plan next steps from there.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:26 AM on January 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

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