K was an 18-year old looking for a small apartment. She said she couldn’t live with her mother anymore – which rings my bell as “I refuse to live by my parents rules”. But something about her was different. There were no body piercings, no tattoos. She had a job. It didn’t pay much, but it was steady. She wasn’t pregnant, didn’t have a baby or a “fiancé” in the shadows. She was clean & spoke normally. So I told her if she could get a strong co-signer, I’d rent her one of my rent-subsidized apartments. An aunt co-signed.
She told me she did have a boyfriend, that he was in the Navy, and she was a religious Christian, very involved in her church. You can bet I’d heard the “religious” part before. But she moved in, the neighbors didn’t complain about noise, traffic or dirt, and aside from her fairly regular phone calls about miscellany, it was going okay.
A few months later, K told me she was going to court to try to get custody of her 8 & 11-year-old siblings. Did I have a bigger apartment, because the judge would want proof that she could house them. Now starts a series of what, even now, I think of as amazing circumstances, miracles if you will.
First of all, what family circumstances are so dire that a judge would even consider, much less award, custody of two little kids to an 18 year old sister with an entry-level job? Second, I had not had a 3-bedroom vacancy in at least 10 years! But I had one now, and two prior applicants had failed the screenings, so it was available. I wrote the judge that she had an apartment waiting, and to call me if he needed verification.
And you know what? This young girl, just a kid herself, came back with the court papers signed, and was absolutely thrilled to be able to take care of her brother and sister! The kids came with only the clothes on their backs, no beds, winter coats, or change of underwear. No responsible parent, but they did have this loving sister, a caring congregation, a landlord who knew where to get needed stuff, and a court system which was pulling for them.
And they all lived happily ever after. (Well, maybe just till the kids became teenagers.)