108 Degrees of Living Low Income

In 2006, we said to hell with Idaho minimum wage ($5.15/hr), health care (if you could call it that), special education (don’t get me started), and weather (weeks of 100+ and weeks of 25-).  We sold everything that didn’t matter, packed what was left into a Penske moving van, and headed to Corvallis, Oregon where I had already begun the process of renting a federally-subsidized tax credit apartment complex.  We told ourselves that it was only going to be for a year.  Now our third next door neighbor is moving out and I’m insanely jealous.  And after a day of 108 degrees, it almost feels like we might as well be in Idaho (except for the having hope part).

Now, the owners here don’t like us to call this a low income apartment complex (they’re actually townhouses, but who’s that particular?) even though:

  • If you sit in your bedroom while your neighbor reads a story to their child in their bedroom, you can tell what story your neighbor is reading.
  • There are only two places in the kitchen where you might need to stand–you can reach everything in the kitchen from those two places.
  • The cupboard doors don’t actually close.  They only sort of close, or almost close, however you choose to word it.
  • It is more likely than not that you will have to ask to have each of your burners, as well as your toilet seat, replaced at least once before you move out.
  • There are no designated parking places and you must request a raised garden bed if you wish to grow anything.
  • You must deal with a minimum of five inspections in any given year.
  • You must also deal with at least 5 pages of paperwork, provide pay stubs, child support information, bank account information, birth certificates, social security numbers, and AGI from your most recent tax return before you can renew your lease.
  • In the winter, it is impossible to get the temperature warm enough without making it too warm.
  • In the summer, it is impossible to get the temperature cool enough to do pretty much anything, including sleep.

When we first moved in, it was a clean neighborhood.   The old management, while strict, kept the neighborhood clean and free of fanfire.  People didn’t like the old management.  I did, but other people didn’t.  We got new management.  In fact, we get new management on a regular basis.  It’s one of the perks of living here.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  This apartment is better than the place we came from (and a good thing, too, or I likely would have given up all hope after two weeks of homelessness in Corvallis) and because we’ve stayed here for three years, we are about to buy our first home (two months, give or take), but there’s only so long you can cram 6 people plus medical equipment into 975 square feet before you start to go a little stir crazy.  And there’s only so long you can listen to your neighbor’s boyfriend urinating before you start to hate the place you live.  And when it’s 108 degrees outside and it’s against your lease to install your own window air conditioner, but you haven’t seen the maintenance person in six months, it gets really easy to forget that you’re better off than you were three years before–or maybe it’s just selective memory.

One thought on “108 Degrees of Living Low Income

  1. Pingback: TrainyBrainy » Blog Archive » Posts about Special Education as of July 29, 2009

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