I took a young lady to get an apartment yesterday. She moved here a year ago after her mother and grandmother passed away within eighteen months of each other. She was staying with a cousin who lived with his family in the dismal housing projects across from my work. At twenty-four she had no family left in Arkansas, a high school degree that she never used because she spent the last six years caring for the women in her family who were dying from cancer, and a heart full of grief. "I miss my mom. I've never been on my own," she told me.
Slowly, the young lady put a resume together and applied for a job at a care facility for mentally and physically challenged adults. I helped her open a checking account and she held the job for almost a year. Finally, she had enough money to move out on her own. "That's great!" I told her, and we started hunting for her first home.
It had to be within walking distance to work and a store. It had to be under $500 a month. She found a place she liked right across from work but said the lady was rude to her. I went to the office and left her in the car.
"I'm looking for a one bedroom apartment." The office manager smiled and the caretaker jumped up and showed me an open one right across from the office. "When it is available?"
"We just need to clean it and you can move in," the manager said.
"It's not for me. It's for a really great young woman who is excited to move into her first apartment. Let me go get her."
Everything changed. The manager turned cold.
"I'll have to do a credit check."
"Ok, I doubt she'll have any credit. She's never had a card or a car loan."
"She'll have to score about 600-800."
"Really? What about pay stubs from her job?"
"No. Only a credit check." The manager handed us an application and I started to read it over with the young woman. "She has to fill it out herself."
"Listen, her mother died and this is her first apartment. She's held a job for almost a year and has enough money for four months of rent in the bank. I don't see the problem."
"She has to fill it out herself. Call tomorrow and I'll tell her if she got approved."
When we got to the car, she sunk down low in the seat. "That woman doesn't like me."
"Nope. She does not," I agreed.
"Did she like you?"
We sat there for a minute in the cold car. "Let's find somewhere else for you to live." I started the car and prayed. "Dear God, let there be a place for a girl who has managed to stay off drugs, not get pregnant, keep a job for a year, and save money. Let there be a way for her to move out of a bad neighborhood. Let there be a place for a young, black girl in America."
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