Thursday, August 13, 2015

My Move Up North: The East Coast Hustle

By Advice Columnist, Cathy Harris,

August 10, 2015

We can't stay silent in matters of the heart.  I have meant to tell this story for a while now to educate everyone on why many people today can't be trusted and why you need to speak up for yourself and for others.

After being on the road for an entire year and visiting 15 states in 2013, and after living in Tampa, FL for 6 months, I decided to move up north to Philadelphia b efore eventually moving to Austin, TX in July 2014.
Since I was only going to be living in the Philly area for 6 months, I rented out a room by phone from a potential landlord, an African American woman, through a referral from another person.  

Many people today have rooms to rent in their homes or on their properties for $400 to $450 a month.  This usually comes with utilities and many times cable and the internet.

But when I arrived in Philly in June 2014 in the wee hours of the night, I found out the room that I had rented did not even have an air conditioner or a ceiling fan.  

Being from the south, 20 years in Atlanta, I did not know to ask beforehand about these things.  I just simply thought it was part of the accommodations.  

So despite buying two box fans, the fans did nothing but blow out hot air.  Also the landlord did not bother to tell me that she had a beauty parlor on the premises in which I would have to be subjected to smelling toxic chemicals.

What I am wondering is how did these landlords up north get these properties to rent in the first place?  Are they just collecting money for other landlords (aka slumlords) or do they own these properties outright? 

I spoke with three other potential landlords, African American women, who had rooms for rent in their homes but they had animals and did not even bother to clean their homes before inviting in a potential tenant. 

What I saw in most of these landlords' eyes were the desperation to pay their bills.  They all had grown children in their 20s, especially male children, still living with them who should have had their own businesses and been out on their own.  However, I do understand the issues today.

Just Some of the Alarming U.S. Statistics Today:

*        20% of American families do not have one single family member employed at this time.
*        One out of every six men in their prime (25 to 54) do not have a job.
*        More than 20% of children are living in poverty.
*        Over a million public school children are homeless.
*        53% of wage earners makes less than $30,000 a year.
*        Half of all college graduates are still relying on their parents for financial support even after being out of school for 2 years.

Renting out a room in your home or basement is a great way to keep your head above water in this fallen economy.  However, no matter how hard things get, you still can't just treat people any kind of way.  Many of these potential landlords had extremely bad customer service skills and thought they could talk to you any kind of way.

Everyone continued to tell me that a ceiling fan would not be enough to keep my room cool, so I still looked at the options of moving somewhere else or buying an air conditioner.  

First the landlord told me because of the old style windows I could not put an air conditioner in the windows.  Then I asked about the air conditioner that you can just sit in your room.

She had an answer for everything.  The landlord told me that I could not have a ceiling fan and air conditioner both in my room because it would be too much electric power in one room (in other words...her light bill would go up).

I can't believe these landlords in the north who think that they can rent these rooms out without sufficient air in the summer and heat in the winter.  

This is inhumane treatment and agencies like the Department of HUD should be notified of these types of livings conditions.  These are nothing but code violations and these landlords need to be exposed.
People are not animals and they don't deserve to be put in inhumane conditions just so some landlord (aka slumlord) can live in some other neighborhood in their air conditioned house or condo and make money -- while many, especially senior citizens, lay in these rooms day and night in horrible living conditions. 

In the summer months, many people in the north are staying inside trying to stay cool simply because they are very, very uncomfortable.  I see why people up north, especially senior citizens, do not live long compared to people in the south.  I also see why people move to the south. 

If you are in a steady mode or position where everything in your life centers around keeping cool or keeping warm, then you can't really do much of anything else in your life.

In the end I decided to leave the entire state after three realtors did not respond back to me in a timely manner.  But right before I left, the landlord had placed ceiling fans in all the rooms -- so I was extremely happy about that for my other two female roommates, who had obviously chosen not to speak up about the issue. 

Remember some people will come into your life not just for a season...but for a reason. 

My message to all you landlords out there is -- you must have the decency to provide affordable housing with sufficient air and heat to your tenants, especially seniors, because it's the humane thing to do.

Cathy Harris is an Advice Columnist at, an Empowerment and Motivational Speaker, Non-GMO Health and Wellness Expert, Self-Publishing and Business Coach and the author of over 20 non-fiction books including 4 health books and can be contacted through her empowerment company, Angels Press, P.O. Box 19282, Austin, TX, 78760, 
She is available for seminars, workshops, webinars and coaching at

Copyright 2015 Cathy Harris. All Rights Reserved