Mará Rose Williams: Mom won’t rest until the kid’s got a place to lay his head

08/17/2014 7:00 AM

08/17/2014 6:48 PM

Phew! I’ll finally be able to get a good night’s sleep and not worry that my child is going to be spending his nights on a park bench in Washington, D.C.

What am I talking about?

Well, I finally felt relief once the college graduate had landed a once-in-a-lifetime internship with The Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch in the nation’s capital, reporting on the Hill.

Then I realized he’d have to find a place to live for three months. Relief was short-lived.

Just try finding a safe and affordable apartment in the big city without being able to inspect the place. Most of the apartments we saw online cost $1,300 to $1,500 a month for a studio or a room in some stranger’s basement or converted garage. Really? That’s a mortgage, not rent.

And how do you know the stranger isn’t a serial killer or a pervert or something? No way. Talk about nerve-racking.

Then the son was advised to check out Craigslist, and that sounded like a great idea. I bought a car off Craigslist once; it ran for about two years. There we found a bunch of “available apartment” listings that seemed reasonably priced — $600 to $900 a month.

Turns out most of those are scams. Someone lists an actual apartment in an actual apartment complex, in case you have someone drive by to check out the neighborhood for crime, crack and rats.

They post pictures of an apartment that is supposed to be the one you are going to rent. They send you an authentic-looking lease agreement with your name already on it, as if they have decided you’re the perfect tenant. But they need you to send first- and last-month’s rent by MoneyGram to secure the place.

Ding! That’s when my lightbulb went on. My son tells me several of his friends who’ve done D.C. or New York or Chicago internships had already been ripped off by rental scams. Who are these people/predators who lie in wait to take advantage of unsuspecting young people who are just trying to start their lives?

We turned to friends who know people living in that area. No one offered a couch or even the floor and a pillow. But someone turned us on to an organization, appropriately named WISH, which rents apartments to interns. Interns room together in groups of three or four and share a living room, kitchen and bathroom.

Rent is reasonable. It’s reasonably safe, and at least with roomies there’s potential for hangout buddies, maybe even lifelong friends. He’ll be making decent money, so I won’t have to pay the rent. That’s on him, and he’s got that. He leaves Kansas City at the end of the month.

Like I said, now I can finally sleep at night. Of course, he said I’ll probably just find something else to worry about. Because that’s what mamas do. No matter how old or independent the kids get.

To reach Mará Rose Williams, call 816-234-4419 or send email to mdwilliams@kcstar.com.

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