Single mothers have many obstacles to renting, not the least of which is economics. Other factors like family status discrimination and the needment for safe neighborhoods and good schools often limit good choices. But, the single mother housing rental choice lies squarely with the single parent. No one else is there to make that decision.
It’s a constant juggling act figuring where one can rent, how much it will cost, and whether the children will be best served in that community or in a different one. All these factors have to be taken into account when a single mother chooses her abode and she must do so with the mindset that she must take responsibility for her own life and those of her children.
With women still earning only 75 cents to every dollar a male earns, it’s easy to see why single mother households struggle to make ends meet. In addition, many employers are openly discriminating against single mothers because of fears of health costs for children or work absences due to child care issues.
Another issue that single mothers have to overcome is that to work outside the home, they must pay someone to mind their own children. If the price of day care offsets the earnings of the mother, then it makes no sense for her to work. But, if she doesn’t work, her options for renting a home become quite limited since she cannot produce evidence of a stable income.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development offers housing assistance programs for subsidized housing, housing vouchers, and public housing. These programs are managed usually locally and one needs to determine what agencies in your area are responsible for assisting single mothers to take part in these programs. It is in the best interest of the family that the parent researches the single mother housing rental assistance programs and applies for any that she determines is good for her family.
The two best things a single mother can do to improve her chances of having the financial stability to meet rental housing needs is to get day care assistance and to have a steady job. Any increase in income or decrease in expenses will directly impact single mother housing rental options. Subsequently, education can improve her wage-earning capacity and contribute to better choices in rental communities.
Being Your Own Advocate
Many single mothers fall between the cracks because of a lack of self-responsibility. They expect agencies to pull them out of the hole they find themselves in. With more “hands-off” philosophy of social programs, the single mother needs to become a fierce advocate not only for herself but for her children as well.
Being an informed buyer is the best protection when choosing single mother housing rental options. Know what your rights are, know what comparable rentals run for, read the contracts and follow the guidelines to the letter. Do you know what the penalties are for missing a rent payment? Do you know if you will get your deposit back? Have you gotten references from other people who have rented in this community? Do you know what the neighborhood is like? Do you know what the school system is like? All these things are items that a single mother must take personal responsibility in managing when making a single mother housing rental choice. Once you sign on the dotted line, it could be a year or more before you can get yourself out of that situation if it turns out to be a bad choice for you or your children. Choose wisely.