Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

When Obtaining Housing for Adult Child, What to Say

Good day, all. My 19 year old son was released from jail after 2+months with no warning. Cannot come back to live me and his dad bc of violent tendencies (we formally evicted him and have VPOs in place sadly). So those of you who have gotten your “kids” an apartment, what do you tell the apartment complex? He has no job, no rental history, etc. His aunt has graciously offered financial assistance so we could pay for the 6 month lease in full, but do I say he is mentally ill? I just have no experience in this. He has always lived w/ us. Please your input, those of you who have been there. He is presently staying w/ older brother but that is temporary.


Hi @LisaS, this is a really tough situation you’re in, and it sounds all too familiar where the system failed and didn’t come thru for us, and put this on the caregivers to find living arrangements for our children. Although my son was never violent or even verbally abusive towards me, his behavior was violent and destructive, holes in walls, smashed tv’s and other electronics and appliances. He also often left our door open while he went out walking and while I was @ work and claimed, “our home is open to everyone, everyone is welcome here”. Well, needless to say it was horrifying to come home and see the front door wide open with all of our belongings right there, and him nowhere to be found. He used to wander off for days. He would also give away our things to random strangers on the street, including the money I was giving him, TVs, cellphones, I would say he probably gave away a couple of thousand dollars that he had saved up within a 6 month timeframe claiming, “mom, they need it more than we do”. I thought it best he had his own place, at least initially after getting out of the hospital.

My only advice to you is to be as honest as you can with the potential landlord without giving too many details (his violent tendencies). I would not recommend evading that your son has sz, because god forbid, should something happen, he could be evicted. They may ask if he is medicated and I’m not sure if your son is or not, but I know that the fact my was was on meds was a huge factor in him obtaining his own apt.

We got lucky there because he is currently living in the same apt complex where he & I used to both live in a 2 bedroom (where he got destructive). So the landlord kind of already knew he wasn’t well. While he was hospitalized for 3 months (after his first break), I gave my notice and left and bought a small townhouse. The hospital social worker was putting pressure on me to find him a place to live (they would not even entertain the idea of a group home, stating they were all “full”and no beds). So yes, I looked day & night for a small nice cozy apt for my son, then I saw a small 1 bedroom became available where we both used to lived, and only 5 minutes from my townhouse ( which my buying this home close to my son was intentional). And since the landlord already knew our history and she knew my son, I told her the truth about my son having sz. I mentioned he was medicated and she seemed more at ease about that.

This all happened in 2014, and I will tell you we did have our ups and downs In the last 5 years in his new apt. 6 hospitalizations, close calls with going to jail, more holes in walls, more TVs smashed, but not to the point of being evicted. Of course I offered to fix everything in the apartment, and I did, and the landlord was agreeable. She is very brisk in her demeanor, but very fair, and she seemed ok with working with us.

My goal is to have him be stable for at least a year, and consider perhaps having him move in with me again. That is really what I would like. We will see.

Again, I think honesty is the best policy. I’m sorry you are burdened with the task of finding him a place, it should be the systems job, especially if his tendencies are violent. I thought I read they were working with you on this, not sure what happened? And I can’t believe they didn’t even inform you of his release from jail.

My son had just turned 20 when he got his own place, so young to be on his own and also having sz… it ripped my heart out.

Wishing you luck and also, will you be taking him back in after 6 months? Because you mentioned 6 months, wasn’t sure if this was just a trial period for all of you.

You and your son are in my thoughts.

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Hey LisaS,

We have cosigned leases for our son in the past. He’s never had a problem getting an apartment and we’ve never told any landlord that he has scz. By cosigning you are guaranteeing rent and you are guaranteeing that you will pay for any damages beyond the security deposit. Lots of people do the same thing for their adult kids who don’t have scz. Good luck!

Dont say anything, just pay and sign, my daughter and boy friend only met landlord once to see apartment and sign, I did it all coupled with her credit score of 790, I have manipulated her only credit card for ten years, her score is better than mine.

Hi LisaS,

I would also recommend saying something to the manager about your son, just in case.

When my husband and I moved into our last apartment, I told the manager about my husband’s serious mental illness and he really took it in stride. I believe that telling the manager helped him know how to handle all the situations that came up the five years we lived there such as erratic behavior, upsetting other tenants, tearing out drywall and altering the apartment even though in our lease we weren’t allowed to. At the end of our stay, we did not receive our deposit back, but I had paid the rent early each month and so my credit did not take a hit because of my husband’s behavior.

Some times all managers care about is that the rent is paid on time, so be sure to reassure them that it will be, despite any odd behavior from your son. I see that you’re in OK, and thankfully the rents are not expensive. If it doesn’t work our where you’re planning on housing him, find him somewhere else. Don’t give up. As long as he stays on his medication and isn’t too disruptive, he may live peacefully in a rental for the rest of his life.

Whatever you do, do not let him move back with you. Please be safe.

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yes, either way, they just want paid…

When in this situation, I have tried both ways - keeping it under wraps and revealing some details about my son’s illness.

Neither way worked out, as he was at the time either unmedicated or not prescribed a medication that worked for him. It helped a little for management to know - they were a bit more willing to work with me instead of bring any legal proceedings or eviction. But in each case eviction was threatened and he had to move out at some point.

No, we will not be taking him back in 6 months. The PACT team is supposed to be providing him housing in 4 to 5 months, but the shortest apt. lease is 6 months here. So trying to locate housing for him for the interim. He met another young man about the same age last time he was in patient who lives in a rural part of our state and wishes to come to the “big city” (we live in Oklahoma City area). He gets disability; my son has been denied twice and we’re appealing now but were warned it could take 9 months. So, my son is pondering have this young man move in with him. He is also schizophrenic. I’m not sure how well that would work…2 schizophrenics living together? Has anyone had experience with this scenario? Anyhow, I thank you all for your input. My best friend has been in the property management business for years and she’s saying that unless there is proof of a job, income, credit, rental history, we aren’t going to be able to rent anything. She is saying I will probably have to say the apartment is for me and put it in my name. I hate having to lie. But what choice do you have? He has to have somewhere to live.

Hi LisaS,

You might want to lean a little more heavily on the PACT team to either help you find proper interim accommodations or to do research for you to find a landlord that would be OK with letting your son live on their property. It seems irresponsible for them to assume all their patients will somehow find interim living situations on their own, but maybe they haven’t been taking that into consideration.

I would not put an apartment in my name as your management friend suggested unless I was completely willing to accept any and all possibilities, which would include anything that could happen in a crisis with either your son or his friend. Are there any cheap motels nearby where they could stay for the interim?

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@LisaS, I agree with @LifeIsHard, put more pressure on the PACT team, and also while doing that, is there any possible way he could stay with older brother while a place is found? You must constantly convey to the social working team the urgency for a place, and the fact that you’re between a rock and a hard place, how difficult it truly is finding an apt in your son’s situation.

Please keep us updated, this is so close to home for me.

Any sort of university area nearby? You can always truthfully put his occupation down as student - aren’t we all students of life?

I know that areas heavy with student housing options are very used to renting to unemployed adults whose parents cosign the lease.

I would let your son and roommate get an apt together. It may work out great. Unfortunately, you will have to co-sign the lease.

But even “sane” people have a harder time qualifying for rentals these days. A lot of parents have to help their children out. I recently went through a move to a new apartment, so I’ve been through it. Now, I am looking for housing for my Sz exhusband.

Can you negotiate a 6 mos lease? This way your son could test out the living arrangements before making a lengthy commitment.


My husband and I own rental property and have had and still have occupants with mental illness. Since our daughter is mentally ill we understand the issues of housing people have, but it’s more about the violent behavior because we have to think of the safety of all our tenants. My husband goes out of his way to get to know everyone and tries to accommodate everybody as much as he can, but we have had to evict a few tenants. It is better to be upfront I think but maybe not in every situation

Thanks to all for your input. My son has managed to get a job for the first time in his life (he is cleaning offices). He is still living with his older brother and his girlfriend and it is actually working out well. Older brother put out some strict house rules, mostly about cleaning up after himself, and he has been abiding by those. The PACT team services have been a little disappointing. The nurse showed up one day and had forgotten his meds. She had one job; how could she possibly do that? She acted like it was no big deal. I am just astounded by this behavior. He has yet to see the psychiatrist on the team so he is still on his old medication regime minus Xanax. He likes his new job and it has been a Godsend. A coworker has graciously offered to pick him up daily and drop him back off when their day is done. Since he doesn’t drive, this is an amazing blessing. He seems to be doing very well and is more stable than I have seen him in years. I think him not living with his bipolar dad anymore and having the stress of frequent arguments has made all the difference. I continue to be hopeful for his future.

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@LisaS, I’m so glad your son has turned around. Your story sounded so hopeless like mine and many others’ stories on here, but when you hit rock bottom there is no place to go but up. I wish my son would try to work, I think it could kill many birds with one stone: him possibly making some friends, get him out of the house for a few hours a day, and best but not least, he could earn some income. Just so many reasons I wish he would try, even if starting out at like 10 hours a week somewhere. Funny thing is I own my own cleaning company, he could easily work for me, and he could easily use my car to get around. I don’t really need to leave my house too often. Whenever I approach him, he comes back with, “ mom, you know what these meds do to me, you know the side affects, how can you ask me to work”? Then I feel guilty for even asking him. I’m sure a lot of it is the side effects, but sometimes I wonder if it’s just the fear of being around people, (he would be part of a cleaning crew), or maybe partial laziness. They get conditioned to this way of life, and have zero desire to ever work.

Every mother wants something alittle better for their child, and seeing him having no life, and doing nothing with his life, it is like a slow death every day.

I knew your son would do well with his brother. My son always seems happier when his older brother and girlfriend are around. They are the closest to him having “friends” and they are within his age group.

It sounds like a change of environment is what your son needed, I always said a bad environment and upbringing can cause so much trauma and damage and always felt like that was a huge contributing factor in developing sz.

And I bet he is following all of his older brother’s rules too. They don’t ever listen to us. Lol