Ode to the Marginally Employed

I'm looking for apartments in Detroit, which is a new experience for me. I've never rented in a big city before; never had to deal with 5% vacancy rates, never found out, frustrated, that an apartment on craigslist rented 2 days after it posted, never inquired after an apartment only to find that it's part of a public housing program for which I don't qualify.  

Never had to provide a pay stub to rent an apartment, either.



I'm moving to Detroit with two other friends, and we all have roughly the same lifestyle. We're living-off-savings/starting-our-own-businesses/working-on-projects-for-free/picking-up-contract-work/looking-for-a-part-time-job.


We're doing that thing where you cobble together a life of meaningful work and somehow figure out how to pay the bills at the same time.


Not a single one of us can provide a pay stub for our $40,000/year job that we've been working steadily for the pay 20 months. We can't do that now; we'll probably never be able to do that.


Which is fine, because having a full time job is only one way to make a living. I've managed to maintain a credit score in the seven hundreds despite never having been able to provide a pay stub.


Unfortunately, that seems to be to only acceptable way to gain the trust of future land lords.


I've reliably paid my bills since 6 months after I graduated, and I've never been able to provide a pay stub. Does that mean I'm a bad tenant? Does that mean I'm not worthy of trust? Not worthy of credit? Again, I think all my former land lords and all my current creditors would disagree. I pay my bills.


We, the marginally employed, the just-getting-by-for-now, the self employed, the contractors, the ones taking some time off, the ones cooking up grand new plans in our basement - we willingly endure the confused looks of our peers and the disapproving looks from distant relatives.


We know by now that a certain percentage of strangers will assume that we are dead beats. That's fine, it's part of the deal. That's part of what it means to break with the status-quo.


We're willing to accept all that, that's part of the deal.


Here, though, I have to draw the line.


You don't have to respect me, but you shouldn't be able to deny me housing.


I should at least be able to rent an apartment. There have got to be more robust ways for us to prove our ability to pay rent.


Our economy is driven by the innovative, creative, foolish people who are crazy enough to start their own businesses.


Most entrepreneurs start out their lives looking like marginally employed slackers. Surprise, surprise: before they succeed, they look like failures.


If we want to live in a country full of entrepreneurs, we ought to start making a more hospitable place for them to live.