Get Out of Debt Guy

Struggling With Homelessness After Death of Child

Posted June 20, 2013

WRAL Reader Question

Dear Steve,

I'm a single mother of two suffering homelessness after the death of a child.

I have been suffering homelessness for about 4 years now and although I have been able to hold employment and pay off some bills I have been unable to pull myself out of this homeless situation.

Recently I have come across a property owner who has a unit that has been sitting empty for a while.

He is willing to allow me to rent the property as is. It is in need of a few repairs and he will reduce the lease rate for my renting as is. I am really in need of this place but I'm not sure how much it will cost to repair.

Are there any loans or grants out there that can help me. I have been suffering this situation for far too long and my children and I really need this place.

We have been through transitional homes and shelters, slept in cars and struggled. I would like to give them a piece of normal life. Please help.....


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Dear Scroggy,

I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of your child and the struggles you've been dealing with. I'm sure most people could not even begin to fathom how difficult this has been and the obstacles you've had to deal with.

The best website I know of to help with public benefits and assistance programs is It will run you through all the benefit programs you may be eligible for.

Now there may be a program out there I am not familiar with but I can't think of one I've ever seen where the tenant  is eligible for repair expenses for a property that isn't theirs.

I get very worried about such arrangements. Recently a reader had a similar relationship with his landlord and it turn out the property was actually in foreclosure and the landlord was just pocketing the money from the rent. The guy was evicted when the house was foreclosed on.

According to the North Carolina Attorney General office it is the responsibility of the landlord to "Make all repairs and do whatever is necessary to put and keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition. Maintain in good and safe working order and promptly repair all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air conditioning, and other facilities and appliances supplied or required to be supplied by him provided that notification of needed repairs is made to the landlord in writing by the tenant except in emergency situations."

Additionally, "North Carolina General Statute 42-42(b) states that a landlord cannot excuse himself from these duties through a special clause inserted into the lease. As discussed below, many leases contain such clauses, and tenants should not be fooled into thinking that such clauses are binding. A landlord and a tenant can enter into an agreement separate from the lease through which the tenant will perform the landlord’s maintenance duties, but only if the tenant is to receive reasonable and just compensation for it. Such would be the case when a carpenter, plumber or painter rents from the landlord, and the landlord wants to hire that tenant to help with the upkeep and repair of the rental property."

If you want to reach the kind people in the North Carolina Attorney General office to discuss these issues further, call (919) 716-6400.

There may be subsidized and public housing available. You can begin your search by calling the Raleigh HUD public housing office at (919) 831-6416. There is also the Raleigh Housing Authority that might be able to help as well. They can be reached at (919) 831-6620.

I did call a friend who is a successful landlord in the Raleigh area. He advised me there is a local agency that will force the landlord to make needed repairs or fine them. But that seems to leave you in a bad spot if you fall for the "you repair it" scenario and then report them. It seems like that would just cause a bad situation to become worse.

Steve Rhode
WRAL Get Out of Debt Guy

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  • steverhode Jun 24, 2013

    @NCGirl16 Great suggestion!

  • NCGirl16 Jun 21, 2013

    DHIC, Inc. ( might be a resource as well. Most of DHIC's apartments are reserved for households earning 60% or below Area Median Income. They require: 1. Evidence of income; 2. Landlord and/or personal references; 3. Credit check, and 4. Criminal background check. They have several communities in the Triangle area.

About this Blog:

Steve Rhode has had careers in opthalmology, real estate and as the head of a nonprofit debt counseling firm. On his blog, he offers hard-won, free advice about getting out of debt, consolidation and making the right choices as you manage your money.