Where can I live cheap in LA?
February 6, 2004 8:14 AM   Subscribe

Help for a semi-homeless Wendell. [when is there NOT more inside?]

As I have referred to previously all over the Filter, while I start to rebuild my entertainingly shattered life, I'm staying with my father (an 80-year-old retiree who thinks, among other things, the internet is evil) in a barely-big-enough-for-one apartment. I am literally under doctor's orders to seek out a more hospitable place to live, but I currently have a very low and non-stable income and recent events left me with a horrendous credit record and an "eviction" on my permanent record (due to 'housemates from hell' who, among other offenses, stayed after I moved out, squatting until kicked out, while the landlord thought I had 'deep pockets'). Probably the only thing I can afford in L.A. (under $600/month, preferably close to $450) and have a chance at getting without background checking would be a "shared" place, and after my past experience, it scares me 'til I have to change pants. Any place where I can find GOOD leads? Something like craigslist, but better targeted for a middle-aged geek. Of course, a "personal referral" from a Los Angeles-area MeFi member, fan or friend of either would be great (I have almost no usable "real life" contacts), but I don't want to turn AskMeFi into "mattslist", honest. Any suggestions? (any personal referrals can go to wendellhomeATwendellwitDOTcom)
posted by wendell to Home & Garden (9 answers total)
A general tip that I can offer is to try for places being rented by an individual instead of a large company- they are less likely to do a background investigation and more willing to listen if they turn up the marks against you.
posted by drezdn at 8:45 AM on February 6, 2004

One tidbit from my own experience: trust your instincts when evaluating potential roomies. If you get a weird vibe right off the bat, RUN.
posted by rushmc at 8:57 AM on February 6, 2004

Good luck Wendell.
posted by seanyboy at 9:06 AM on February 6, 2004

Response by poster: try for places being rented by an individual instead of a large company
That's how I first found a place to get out of the housesharing mess...

If you get a weird vibe right off the bat, RUN.
IknowIkniowIknow... The central person in the housesharing disaster was my soon-to-be-ex-wife's "best friend". I learned to trust my own feelings and distrust hers.
posted by wendell at 9:51 AM on February 6, 2004

Wish I could help, wendell -- but best wishes on your search.

And FWIW -- any chance of moving OUT of high-cost L.A.? There are less expensive places to live -- although the costs involved in getting to them may negate any potential savings. Just a thought.
posted by davidmsc at 10:34 AM on February 6, 2004

If you happen to land in Madison and need a couch to crash on, contact me.

I also work for a rental company, so I could hook you up.

As for finding a place to live, go to a neighborhood you'd like to live in. Walk around, look at "For Rent" signs, and write down phone numbers.

I've found all my best apartments this way. You have to be willing to compromise on location sometimes (I had a place that was cheap because the train ran behind it around 10:30 every night - learned to love the sound, though), but that's worked for me.
posted by rocketman at 10:39 AM on February 6, 2004

Response by poster: I'm flexible. My best source of future income does not require me to stay in L.A. (however I have registered the domain name northhollywoodreporter.com for a future project). but most of my immediate support has come from the public teat of the State of California (temporary disability payments that didn't start until well into my recovery). And I declared recently in a a particularly strange MetaTalk thread that "I give "Southern California" everything from San Luis Obispo downcoast...", have spent a year of my life halfway between Fresno and Bakersfield in a place as close to the train tracks as rocketman's, and the only two non-MeFites ever to offer me a couch (YEARS ago) are around S.L.O. Of course, I can imagine the landlords in the outer reaches of So Cal being even MORE distrustful of a guy from Los An-gee-lees. I will hold all invitations from cold-weather states until at least May.
posted by wendell at 11:10 AM on February 6, 2004

In Oregon there are "Ready to Rent" classes where, upon graduation of the course, you get a certificate that certain landlords are willing to accept in lieu of stellar credit or a good rental history. It's a good way to get back on your renting feet without dealing with a slumlord that doesn't do background checks or living with random strangers.

Google doesn't turn up any leads for a similar program in California, but these folks might be able to refer you somewhere.

Also, if you're on disability, you might be able to get a Section 8 voucher to get you through until you find someplace better. Section 8 landlords usually understand that their tenants have poor credit and rental histories.
posted by cmonkey at 12:31 PM on February 6, 2004

Might try placing your own advertisement as available for house sharing. It would still be pot luck, but at least the strangers would be contacting you, instead of the other way around, and you'd have a little bit more control.
posted by JanetLand at 4:01 PM on February 6, 2004

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