I Sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter
I sexually identify as an attack helicopter.
I lied. According to US Army Technical Manual 0, The Soldier as a System, “attack helicopter” is a gender identity, not a biological sex. My dog tags and Form 3349 say my body is an XX-karyotope somatic female.
But, really, I didn’t lie. My body is a component in my mission, subordinate to what I truly am. If I say I am an attack helicopter, then my body, my sex, is too. I’ll prove it to you.
When I joined the Army I consented to tactical-role gender reassignment. It was mandatory for the MOS I’d tested into. I was nervous. I’d never been anything but a woman before.
But I decided that I was done with womanhood, over what womanhood could do for me; I wanted to be something furiously new.
To the people who say a woman would’ve refused to do what I do, I say—
Isn’t that the point?
Red evening over the white Mojave, and I watch the sun set through a canopy of polycarbonate and glass: clitoral bulge of cockpit on the helicopter’s nose. Lightning probes the burned wreck of an oil refinery and the Santa Ana feeds a smoldering wildfire and pulls pine soot out southwest across the Big Pacific. We are alone with each other, Axis and I, flying low.
We are traveling south to strike a high school.
Rotor wash flattens rings of desert creosote. Did you know that creosote bushes clone themselves? The ten-thousand-year elders enforce dead zones where nothing can grow except more creosote. Beetles and mice live among them, the way our cities had pigeons and mice. I guess the analogy breaks down because the creosote’s lasted ten thousand years. You don’t need an attack helicopter to tell you that our cities haven’t. The Army gave me gene therapy to make my blood toxic to mosquitoes. Soon you will have that too, to fight malaria in the Hudson floodplain and on the banks of the Greater Lake.
Now I cross Highway 40, southbound at two hundred knots. The Apache’s engine is electric and silent. Decibel killers sop up the rotor noise. White-bright infrared vision shows me stripes of heat, the tire tracks left by Pear Mesa school buses. Buried housing projects smolder under the dirt, radiators curled until sunset. This is enemy territory. You can tell because, though this desert was once Nevada and California, there are no American flags.
“Barb,” the Apache whispers, in a voice that Axis once identified, to my alarm, as my mother’s. “Waypoint soon.”
“Axis.” I call out to my gunner, tucked into the nose ahead of me. I can see only gray helmet and flight suit shoulders, but I know that body wholly, the hard knots of muscle, the ridge of pelvic girdle, the shallow navel and flat hard chest. An attack helicopter has a crew of two. My gunner is my marriage, my pillar, the completion of my gender.
“Axis.” The repeated call sign means, I hear you.
“Ten minutes to target.”
“Ready for target,” Axis says.
But there is again that roughness, like a fold in carbon fiber. I heard it when we reviewed our fragment orders for the strike. I hear it again now. I cannot ignore it any more than I could ignore a battery fire; it is a fault in a person and a system I trust with my life.
But I can choose to ignore it for now.
The target bumps up over the horizon. The low mounds of Kelso-Ventura District High burn warm gray through a parfait coating of aerogel insulation and desert soil. We have crossed a third of the continental US to strike a school built by Americans.
Axis cues up a missile: black eyes narrowed, telltales reflected against clear laser-washed cornea. “Call the shot, Barb.”
“Stand by. Maneuvering.” I lift us above the desert floor, buying some room for the missile to run, watching the probability-of-kill calculation change with each motion of the aircraft.
Before the Army my name was Seo Ji Hee. Now my call sign is Barb, which isn’t short for Barbara. I share a rank (flight warrant officer), a gender, and a urinary system with my gunner Axis: we are harnessed and catheterized into the narrow tandem cockpit of a Boeing AH-70 Apache Mystic. America names its helicopters for the people it destroyed.
We are here to degrade and destroy strategic targets in the United States of America’s war against the Pear Mesa Budget Committee. If you disagree with the war, so be it: I ask your empathy, not your sympathy. Save your pity for the poor legislators who had to find some constitutional framework for declaring war against a credit union.
The reasons for war don’t matter much to us. We want to fight the way a woman wants to be gracious, the way a man wants to be firm. Our need is as vamp-fierce as the strutting queen and dryly subtle as the dapper lesbian and comfortable as the soft resilience of the demiwoman. How often do you analyze the reasons for your own gender? You might sigh at the necessity of morning makeup, or hide your love for your friends behind beer and bravado. Maybe you even resent the punishment for breaking these norms.
But how often—really—do you think about the grand strategy of gender? The mess of history and sociology, biology and game theory that gave rise to your pants and your hair and your salary? The casus belli?
Often, you might say. All the time. It haunts me.
Then you, more than anyone, helped make me.
When I was a woman I wanted to be good at woman. I wanted to darken my eyes and strut in heels. I wanted to laugh from my throat when I was pleased, laugh so low that women would shiver in contentment down the block.
And at the same time I resented it all. I wanted to be sharper, stronger, a new-made thing, exquisite and formidable. Did I want that because I was taught to hate being a woman? Or because I hated being taught anything at all?
Now I am jointed inside. Now I am geared and shafted, I am a being of opposing torques. The noise I make is canceled by decibel killers so I am no louder than a woman laughing through two walls.
When I was a woman I wanted to have friends who would gasp at the precision and surprise of my gifts. Now I show friendship by tracking the motions of your head, looking at what you look at, the way one helicopter’s sensors can be slaved to the motions of another.
When I was a woman I wanted my skin to be as smooth and dark as the sintered stone countertop in our kitchen.
Now my skin is boron-carbide and Kevlar. Now I have a wrist callus where I press my hydration sensor into my skin too hard and too often. Now I have bit-down nails from the claustrophobia of the bus ride to the flight line. I paint them desert colors, compulsively.
When I was a woman I was always aware of surveillance. The threat of the eyes on me, the chance that I would cross over some threshold of detection and become a target.
Now I do the exact same thing. But I am counting radars and lidars and pit viper thermal sensors, waiting for a missile.
I am gas turbines. I am the way I never sit on the same side of the table as a stranger. I am most comfortable in moonless dark, in low places between hills. I am always thirsty and always tense. I tense my core and pace my breath even when coiled up in a briefing chair. As if my tail rotor must cancel the spin of the main blades and the turbines must whirl and the plates flex against the pitch links or I will go down spinning to my death.
An airplane wants in its very body to stay flying. A helicopter is propelled by its interior near-disaster.
I speak the attack command to my gunner. “Normalize the target.”
“Axis. Comm check.”
“Barb, Axis. I hear you.” No explanation for the fault. There is nothing wrong with the weapon attack parameters. Nothing wrong with any system at all, except the one without any telltales, my spouse, my gunner.
“Normalize the target,” I repeat.
“Axis. Rifle one.”
The weapon falls off our wing, ignites, homes in on the hard invisible point of the laser designator. Missiles are faster than you think, more like a bullet than a bird. If you’ve ever seen a bird.
The weapon penetrates the concrete shelter of Kelso-Ventura High School and fills the empty halls with thermobaric aerosol. Then: ignition. The detonation hollows out the school like a hooked finger scooping out an egg. There are not more than a few janitors in there. A few teachers working late. They are bycatch.
What do I feel in that moment? Relief. Not sexual, not like eating or pissing, not like coming in from the heat to the cool dry climate shelter. It’s a sense of passing. Walking down the street in the right clothes, with the right partner, to the right job. That feeling. Have you felt it?
But there is also an itch of worry—why did Axis hesitate? How did Axis hesitate?
Kelso-Ventura High School collapses into its own basement. “Target normalized,” Axis reports, without emotion, and my heart beats slow and worried.
I want you to understand that the way I feel about Axis is hard and impersonal and lovely. It is exactly the way you would feel if a beautiful, silent turbine whirled beside you day and night, protecting you, driving you on, coursing with current, fiercely bladed, devoted. God, it’s love. It’s love I can’t explain. It’s cold and good.
“Barb,” I say, which means I understand. “Exiting north, zero three zero, cupids two.”
I adjust the collective—feel the swash plate push up against the pitch links, the links tilt the angle of the rotors so they ease their bite on the air—and the Apache, my body, sinks toward the hot desert floor. Warm updraft caresses the hull, sensual contrast with the Santa Ana wind. I shiver in delight.
Suddenly: warning receivers hiss in my ear, poke me in the sacral vertebrae, put a dark thunderstorm note into my air. “Shit,” Axis hisses. “Air search radar active, bearing 192, angels twenty, distance . . . eighty klicks. It’s a fast-mover. He must’ve heard the blast.”
A fighter. A combat jet. Pear Mesa’s mercenary defenders have an air force, and they are out on the hunt. “A Werewolf.”
“Must be. Gown?”
“Gown up.” I cue the plasma-sheath stealth system that protects us from radar and laser hits. The Apache glows with lines of arc-weld light, UFO light. Our rotor wash blasts the plasma into a bright wedding train behind us. To the enemy’s sensors, that trail of plasma is as thick and soft as insulating foam. To our eyes it’s cold aurora fire.
“Let’s get the fuck out.” I touch the cyclic and we sideslip through Mojave dust, watching the school fall into itself. There is no reason to do this except that somehow I know Axis wants to see. Finally I pull the nose around, aim us northeast, shedding light like a comet buzzing the desert on its way into the sun.
“Werewolf at seventy klicks,” Axis reports. “Coming our way. Time to intercept . . . six minutes.”
The Werewolf Apostles are mercenaries, survivors from the militaries of climate-seared states. They sell their training and their hardware to earn their refugee peoples a few degrees more distance from the equator.
The heat of the broken world has chased them here to chase us.
Before my assignment neurosurgery, they made me sit through (I could bear to sit, back then) the mandatory course on Applied Constructive Gender Theory. Slouched in a fungus-nibbled plastic chair as transparencies slid across the cracked screen of a De-networked Briefing Element overhead projector: how I learned the technology of gender.
Long before we had writing or farms or post-digital strike helicopters, we had each other. We lived together and changed each other, and so we needed to say “this is who I am, this is what I do.”
So, in the same way that we attached sounds to meanings to make language, we began to attach clusters of behavior to signal social roles. Those clusters were rich, and quick-changing, and so just like language, we needed networks devoted to processing them. We needed a place in the brain to construct and to analyze gender.
Generations of queer activists fought to make gender a self-determined choice, and to undo the creeping determinism that said the way it is now is the way it always was and always must be. Generations of scientists mapped the neural wiring that motivated and encoded the gender choice.
And the moment their work reached a usable stage—the moment society was ready to accept plastic gender, and scientists were ready to manipulate it—the military found a new resource. Armed with functional connectome mapping and neural plastics, the military can make gender tactical.
If gender has always been a construct, then why not construct new ones?
My gender networks have been reassigned to make me a better AH-70 Apache Mystic pilot. This is better than conventional skill learning. I can show you why.
Look at a diagram of an attack helicopter’s airframe and components. Tell me how much of it you grasp at once.
Now look at a person near you, their clothes, their hair, their makeup and expression, the way they meet or avoid your eyes. Tell me which was richer with information about danger and capability. Tell me which was easier to access and interpret.
The gender networks are old and well-connected. They work.
I remember being a woman. I remember it the way you remember that old, beloved hobby you left behind. Woman felt like my prom dress, polyester satin smoothed between little hand and little hip. Woman felt like a little tic of the lips when I was interrupted, or like teasing out the mood my boyfriend wouldn’t explain. Like remembering his mom’s birthday for him, or giving him a list of things to buy at the store, when he wanted to be better about groceries.
I was always aware of being small: aware that people could hurt me. I spent a lot of time thinking about things that had happened right before something awful. I would look around me and ask myself, are the same things happening now? Women live in cross-reference. It is harder work than we know.
Now I think about being small as an advantage for nape-of-earth maneuvers and pop-up guided missile attacks.
Now I yield to speed walkers in the hall like I need to avoid fouling my rotors.
Now walking beneath high-tension power lines makes me feel the way that a cis man would feel if he strutted down the street in a miniskirt and heels.
I’m comfortable in open spaces but only if there’s terrain to break it up. I hate conversations I haven’t started; I interrupt shamelessly so that I can make my point and leave.
People treat me like I’m dangerous, like I could hurt them if I wanted to. They want me protected and watched over. They bring me water and ask how I’m doing.
People want me on their team. They want what I can do.
A fighter is hunting us, and I am afraid that my gunner has gender dysphoria.
Twenty thousand feet above us (still we use feet for altitude) the bathroom-tiled transceivers cupped behind the nose cone of a Werewolf Apostle J-20S fighter broadcast fingers of radar light. Each beam cast at a separate frequency, a fringed caress instead of a pointed prod. But we are jumpy, we are hypervigilant—we feel that creeper touch.
I get the cold-rush skin-prickle feel of a stranger following you in the dark. Has he seen you? Is he just going the same way? If he attacks, what will you do, could you get help, could you scream? Put your keys between your fingers, like it will help. Glass branches of possibility grow from my skin, waiting to be snapped off by the truth.
“Give me a warning before he’s in IRST range,” I order Axis. “We’re going north.”
“Axis.” The Werewolf’s infrared sensor will pick up the heat of us, our engine and plasma shield, burning against the twilight desert. The same system that hides us from his radar makes us hot and visible to his IRST.
I throttle up, running faster, and the Apache whispers alarm. “Gown overspeed.” We’re moving too fast for the plasma stealth system, and the wind’s tearing it from our skin. We are not modest. I want to duck behind a ridge to cover myself, but I push through the discomfort, feeling out the tradeoff between stealth and distance. Like the morning check in the mirror, trading the confidence of a good look against the threat of reaction.
When the women of Soviet Russia went to war against the Nazis, when they volunteered by the thousands to serve as snipers and pilots and tank drivers and infantry and partisans, they fought hard and they fought well. They ate frozen horse dung and hauled men twice their weight out of burning tanks. They shot at their own mothers to kill the Nazis behind her.
But they did not lose their gender; they gave up the inhibition against killing but would not give up flowers in their hair, polish for their shoes, a yearning for the young lieutenant, a kiss on his dead lips.
And if that is not enough to convince you that gender grows deep enough to thrive in war: when the war ended the Soviet women were punished. They went unmarried and unrespected. They were excluded from the victory parades. They had violated their gender to fight for the state and the state judged that violation worth punishment more than their heroism was worth reward.
Gender is stronger than war. It remains when all else flees.
When I was a woman I wanted to machine myself.
I loved nails cut like laser arcs and painted violent-bright in bathrooms that smelled like laboratories. I wanted to grow thick legs with fat and muscle that made shapes under the skin like Nazca lines. I loved my birth control, loved that I could turn my period off, loved the home beauty-feedback kits that told you what to eat and dose to adjust your scent, your skin, your moods. I admired, wasn’t sure if I wanted to be or wanted to fuck, the women in the build-your-own-shit videos I watched on our local image of the old Internet. Women who made cyberattack kits and jewelry and sterile-printed IUDs, made their own huge wedge heels and fitted bras and skin-thin chameleon dresses. Women who talked about their implants the same way they talked about computers, phones, tools: technologies of access, technologies of self-expression.
Something about their merciless self-possession and self-modification stirred me. The first time I ever meant to masturbate I imagined one of those women coming into my house, picking the lock, telling me exactly what to do, how to be like her. I told my first boyfriend about this, I showed him pictures, and he said, girl, you bi as hell, which was true, but also wrong. Because I did not want those dresses, those heels, those bodies in the way I wanted my boyfriend. I wanted to possess that power. I wanted to have it and be it.
The Apache is my body now, and like most bodies it is sensual. Fabric armor that stiffens beneath my probing fingers. Stub wings clustered with ordnance. Rotors so light and strong they do not even droop: as artificial-looking, to an older pilot, as breast implants. And I brush at the black ring of a sensor housing, like the tip of a nail lifting a stray lash from the white of your eye.
I don’t shave, which all the fast jet pilots do, down to the last curly scrotal hair. Nobody expects a helicopter to be sleek. I have hairy armpits and thick black bush all the way to my ass crack. The things that are taboo and arousing to me are the things taboo to helicopters. I like to be picked up, moved, pressed, bent and folded, held down, made to shudder, made to abandon control.
Do these last details bother you? Does the topography of my pubic hair feel intrusive and unnecessary? I like that. I like to intrude, inflict damage, withdraw. A year after you read this maybe those paragraphs will be the only thing you remember: and you will know why the rules of gender are worth recruitment.
But we cannot linger on the point of attack.
“He’s coming north. Time to intercept three minutes.”
“Shit. How long until he gets us on thermal?”
“Ninety seconds with the gown on.” Danger has swept away Axis’ hesitation.
“He’s not quite on zero aspect—yeah, he’s coming up a few degrees off our heading. He’s not sure exactly where we are. He’s hunting.”
“He’ll be sure soon enough. Can we kill him?”
“With sidewinders?” Axis pauses articulately: the target is twenty thousand feet above us, and he has a laser that can blind our missiles. “We’d have more luck bailing out and hiking.”
“All right. I’m gonna fly us out of this.”
“Just check the gun.”
“Ten times already, Barb.”
When climate and economy and pathology all went finally and totally critical along the Gulf Coast, the federal government fled Cabo fever and VARD-2 to huddle behind New York’s flood barriers.
We left eleven hundred and six local disaster governments behind. One of them was the Pear Mesa Budget Committee. The rest of them were doomed.
Pear Mesa was different because it had bought up and hardened its own hardware and power. So Pear Mesa’s neural nets kept running, retrained from credit union portfolio management to the emergency triage of hundreds of thousands of starving sick refugees.
Pear Mesa’s computers taught themselves to govern the forsaken southern seaboard. Now they coordinate water distribution, re-express crop genomes, ration electricity for survival AC, manage all the life support humans need to exist in our warmed-over hell.
But, like all advanced neural nets, these systems are black boxes. We have no idea how they work, what they think. Why do Pear Mesa’s AIs order the planting of pear trees? Because pears were their corporate icon, and the AIs associate pear trees with areas under their control. Why does no one make the AIs stop? Because no one knows what else is tangled up with the “plant pear trees” impulse. The AIs may have learned, through some rewarded fallacy or perverse founder effect, that pear trees cause humans to have babies. They may believe that their only function is to build support systems around pear trees.
When America declared war on Pear Mesa, their AIs identified a useful diagnostic criterion for hostile territory: the posting of fifty-star American flags. Without ever knowing what a flag meant, without any concept of nations or symbols, they ordered the destruction of the stars and stripes in Pear Mesa territory.
That was convenient for propaganda. But the real reason for the war, sold to a hesitant Congress by technocrats and strategic ecologists, was the ideology of scale atrocity. Pear Mesa’s AIs could not be modified by humans, thus could not be joined with America’s own governing algorithms: thus must be forced to yield all their control, or else remain forever separate.
And that separation was intolerable. By refusing United States administration, our superior resources and planning capability, Pear Mesa’s AIs condemned citizens who might otherwise be saved to die—a genocide by neglect. Wasn’t that the unforgivable crime of fossil capitalism? The creation of systems whose failure modes led to mass death?
Didn’t we have a moral imperative to intercede?
Pear Mesa cannot surrender, because the neural nets have a basic imperative to remain online. Pear Mesa’s citizens cannot question the machines’ decisions. Everything the machines do is connected in ways no human can comprehend. Disobey one order and you might as well disobey them all.
But none of this is why I kill.
I kill for the same reason men don’t wear short skirts, the same reason I used to pluck my brows, the reason enby people are supposed to be (unfair and stupid, yes, but still) androgynous with short hair. Are those good reasons to do something? If you say no, honestly no—can you tell me you break these rules without fear or cost?
But killing isn’t a gender role, you might tell me. Killing isn’t a decision about how to present your own autonomous self to the world. It is coercive and punitive. Killing is therefore not an act of gender.
I wish that were true. Can you tell me honestly that killing is a genderless act? The method? The motive? The victim?
When you imagine the innocent dead, who do you see?
“Barb,” Axis calls, softly. Your own voice always sounds wrong on recordings—too nasal. Axis’ voice sounds wrong when it’s not coming straight into my skull through helmet mic.
“How are we doing?”
“Exiting one hundred and fifty knots north. Still in his radar but he hasn’t locked us up.”
“How are you doing?”
I cringe in discomfort. The question is an indirect way for Axis to admit something’s wrong, and that indirection is obscene. Like hiding a corroded tail rotor bearing from your maintenance guys.
“I’m good,” I say, with fake ease. “I’m in flow. Can’t you feel it?” I dip the nose to match a drop-off below, provoking a whine from the terrain detector. I am teasing, striking a pose. “We’re gonna be okay.”
“I feel it, Barb.” But Axis is tense, worried about our pursuer, and other things. Doesn’t laugh.
“How about you?”
Again the indirection, again the denial, and so I blurt it out. “Are you dysphoric?”
“What?” Axis says, calmly.
“You’ve been hesitating. Acting funny. Is your—” There is no way to ask someone if their militarized gender conditioning is malfunctioning. “Are you good?”
“I . . . ” Hesitation. It makes me cringe again, in secondhand shame. Never hesitate. “I don’t know.”
“Do you need to go on report?”
Severe gender dysphoria can be a flight risk. If Axis hesitates over something that needs to be done instantly, the mission could fail decisively. We could both die.
“I don’t want that,” Axis says.
“I don’t want that either,” I say, desperately. I want nothing less than that. “But, Axis, if—”
The warning receiver climbs to a steady crow call.
“He knows we’re here,” I say, to Axis’ tight inhalation. “He can’t get a lock through the gown but he’s aware of our presence. Fuck. Blinder, blinder, he’s got his laser on us—”
The fighter’s lidar pod is trying to catch the glint of a reflection off us. “Shit,” Axis says. “We’re gonna get shot.”
“The gown should defeat it. He’s not close enough for thermal yet.”
“He’s gonna launch anyway. He’s gonna shoot and then get a lock to steer it in.”
“I don’t know—missiles aren’t cheap these days—”
The ESM mast on the Apache’s rotor hub, mounted like a lamp on a post, contains a cluster of electro-optical sensors that constantly scan the sky: the Distributed Aperture Sensor. When the DAS detects the flash of a missile launch, it plays a warning tone and uses my vest to poke me in the small of my back.
My vest pokes me in the small of my back.
“Barb. Missile launch south. Barb. Fox 3 inbound. Inbound. Inbound.”
“He fired,” Axis calls. “Barb?”
“Barb,” I acknowledge.
Oh, you want to know: many of you, at least. It’s all right. An attack helicopter isn’t a private way of being. Your needs and capabilities must be maintained for the mission.
I don’t think becoming an attack helicopter changed who I wanted to fuck. I like butch assertive people. I like talent and prestige, the status that comes of doing things well. I was never taught the lie that I was wired for monogamy, but I was still careful with men, I was still wary, and I could never tell him why: that I was afraid not because of him, but because of all the men who’d seemed good like him, at first, and then turned into something else.
No one stalks an attack helicopter. No slack-eyed well-dressed drunk punches you for ignoring the little rape he slurs at your neckline. No one even breaks your heart: with my dopamine system tied up by the reassignment surgery, fully assigned to mission behavior, I can’t fall in love with anything except my own purpose.
Are you aware of your body? Do you feel your spine when you stand, your hips when you walk, the tightness and the mass in your core? When you look at yourself, whose eyes do you use? Your own?
I am always in myself. I never see myself through my partner’s eyes. I have weapons to use, of course, ways of moving, moans and cries. But I measure those weapons by their effect, not by their similarity to some idea of how I should be.
Flying is the loop of machinery and pilot, the sense of your motion on the controls translated into torque and lift, the airframe’s reaction shaping your next motion until the loop closes and machine and pilot are one. Awareness collapses to the moment. You are always doing the right thing exactly as it needs to be done. Sex is the same: the search for everything in an instant.
Of course I fuck Axis. A few decades ago this would’ve been a crime. What a waste of perfectly useful behavior. What a waste of that lean muscled form and those perfect killing hands that know me millimeter-by-millimeter system-by-system so there is no mystique between us. No “secret places” or “feminine mysteries,” only the tortuously exact technical exercise of nerves and pressure. Oxytocin released, to flow between us, by the press of knuckles in my cunt.
When I come beneath Axis I cry out, I press my body close, I want that utter loss of control that I feel nowhere else. Heartbeat in arched throat: nipple beneath straining tongue. And my mind is hyper-activated, free-associating, and as Axis works in me I see the work we do together. I see puffs of thirty-millimeter autocannon detonating on night-cold desert floor.
Violence doesn’t get me off. But getting off makes me revel in who I am: and I am violent, made for violence, alive in the fight.
Does that surprise you? Does it bother you to mingle cold technical discipline with hot flesh and sweat?
Let me ask you: why has the worst insult you can give a combat pilot always been weak dick?
Have you ever been exultant? Have you ever known that you are a triumph? Have you ever felt that it was your whole life’s purpose to do something, and all that you needed to succeed was to be entirely yourself?
To be yourself well is the wholest and best feeling that anything has ever felt.
It is what I feel when I am about to live or die.
The Werewolf’s missile arches down on us, motor burned out, falling like an arrow. He is trying a Shoot On Prospect attack: he cannot find us exactly, so he fires a missile that will finish the search, lock onto our heat or burn through our stealth with its onboard radar, or acquire us optically like a staring human eye. Or at least make us react. Like the catcaller’s barked “Hey!” to evoke the flinch or the huddle, the proof that he has power.
We are ringed in the vortex of a dilemma. If we switch off the stealth gown, the Werewolf fighter will lock its radar onto us and guide the missile to the kill. If we keep the stealth system on, the missile’s heat-seeker will home in on the blazing plasma.
I know what to do. Not in the way you learn how to fly a helicopter, but the way you know how to hold your elbows when you gesture.
A helicopter is more than a hovering fan, see? The blades of the rotor tilt and swivel. When you turn the aircraft left, the rotors deepen their bite into the air on one side of their spin, to make off-center lift. You cannot force a helicopter or it will throw you to the earth. You must be gentle.
I caress the cyclic.
The Apache’s nose comes up smooth and fast. The Mojave horizon disappears under the chin. Axis’ gasp from the front seat passes through the microphone and into the bones of my face. The pitch indicator climbs up toward sixty degrees, ass down, chin up. Our airspeed plummets from a hundred and fifty knots to sixty.
We hang there for an instant like a dancer in an oversway. The missile is coming straight down at us. We are not even running anymore.
And I lower the collective, flattening the blades of the rotor, so that they cannot cut the air at an angle and we lose all lift.
I toe the rudder. The tail rotor yields a little of its purpose, which is to counter the torque of the main rotor: and that liberated torque spins the Apache clockwise, opposite the rotor’s turn, until we are nose down sixty degrees, facing back the way we came, looking into the Mojave desert as it rises up to take us.
I have pirouetted us in place. Plasma fire blows in wraith pennants as the stealth system tries to keep us modest.
“Can you get it?” I ask.
I raise the collective again and the rotors bite back into the air. We do not rise, but our fall slows down. Cyclic stick answers to the barest twitch of wrist, and I remember, once, how that slim wrist made me think of fragility, frailty, fear: I am remembering even as I pitch the helicopter back and we climb again, nose up, tail down, scudding backward into the sky while aimed at our chasing killer. Axis is on top now, above me in the front seat, and in front of Axis is the chin gun, pointed sixty degrees up into heaven.
“Barb,” the helicopter whispers, like my mother in my ear. “Missile ten seconds. Music? Glare?”
No. No jamming. The Werewolf missile will home in on jamming like a wolf with a taste for pepper. Our laser might dazzle the seeker, drive it off course—but if the missile turns then Axis cannot take the shot.
It is not a choice. I trust Axis.
Axis steers the nose turret onto the target and I imagine strong fingers on my own chin, turning me for a kiss, looking up into the red scorched sky—Axis chooses the weapon (30MM GUIDED PROX AP) and aims and fires with all the idle don’t-have-to-try confidence of the first girl dribbling a soccer ball who I ever for a moment loved—
The chin autocannon barks out ten rounds a second. It is effective out to one point five kilometers. The missile is moving more than a hundred meters per second.
Axis has one second almost exactly, ten shots of thirty-millimeter smart grenade, to save us.
A mote of gray shadow rushes at us and intersects the line of cannon fire from the gun. It becomes a spray of light. The Apache tings and rattles. The desert below us, behind us, stipples with tiny plumes of dust that pick up in the wind and settle out like sift from a hand.
“Got it,” Axis says.
“I love you.”
Many of you are veterans in the act of gender. You weigh the gaze and disposition of strangers in a subway car and select where to stand, how often to look up, how to accept or reject conversation. Like a frequency-hopping radar, you modulate your attention for the people in your context: do not look too much, lest you seem interested, or alarming. You regulate your yawns, your appetite, your toilet. You do it constantly and without failure.
You are aces.
What other way could be better? What other neural pathways are so available to constant reprogramming, yet so deeply connected to judgment, behavior, reflex?
Some people say that there is no gender, that it is a postmodern construct, that in fact there are only man and woman and a few marginal confusions. To those people I ask: if your body-fact is enough to establish your gender, you would willingly wear bright dresses and cry at movies, wouldn’t you? You would hold hands and compliment each other on your beauty, wouldn’t you? Because your cock would be enough to make you a man.
Have you ever guarded anything so vigilantly as you protect yourself against the shame of gender-wrong?
The same force that keeps you from gender-wrong is the force that keeps me from fucking up.
The missile is dead. The Werewolf Apostle is still up there.
“He’s turning off.” Axis has taken over defensive awareness while I fly. “Radar off. Laser off. He’s letting us go.”
“Afraid of our fighters?” The mercenaries cannot replace a lost J-20S. And he probably has a wingman, still hiding, who would die too if they stray into a trap.
“Yes,” Axis says.
“Keep the gown on.” In case he’s trying to bluff us into shutting down our stealth. “We’ll stick to the terrain until he’s over the horizon.”
“Can you fly us out?”
The Apache is fighting me. Fragments of the destroyed missile have pitted the rotors, damaged the hub assembly, and jammed the control surfaces. I begin to crush the shrapnel with the Apache’s hydraulics, pounding the metal free with careful control inputs. But the necessary motions also move the aircraft. Half a second’s error will crash us into the desert. I have to calculate how to un-jam the shrapnel while accounting for the effects of that shrapnel on my flight authority and keeping the aircraft stable despite my constant control inputs while moving at a hundred and thirty knots across the desert.
“Barb,” I say. “Not a problem.”
And for an hour I fly without thought, without any feeling except the smooth stone joy of doing something that takes everything.
The night desert is black to the naked eye, soft gray to thermal. My attention flips between my left eye, focused on the instruments, and my right eye, looking outside. I am a black box like the Pear Mesa AIs. Information arrives—a throb of feedback in the cyclic, a shift of Axis’ weight, a dune crest ahead—and my hands and feet move to hold us steady. If I focused on what I was doing it would all fall apart. So I don’t.
“Are you happy?” Axis asks.
Good to talk now. Keep my conscious mind from interfering with the gearbox of reflexes below. “Yeah,” I say, and I blow out a breath into my mask, “yeah, I am,” a lightness in my ribs, “yeah, I feel good.”
“Why do you think we just blew up a school?”
Why did I text my best friend the appearance and license number of all my cab drivers, just in case? Because those were the things that had to be done.
Listen: I exist in this context. To make war is part of my gender. I get what I need from the flight line, from the ozone tang of charging stations and the shimmer of distant bodies warping in the tarmac heat, from the twenty minutes of anxiety after we land when I cannot convince myself that I am home, and safe, and that I am no longer keeping us alive with the constant adjustments of my hands and feet.
“Deplete their skilled labor supply, I guess. Attack the demographic skill curve.”
“Kind of a long-term objective. Kind of makes you think it’s not gonna be over by election season.”
“We don’t get to know why the AIs pick the targets.” Maybe destroying this school was an accident. A quirk of some otherwise successful network, coupled to the load-bearing elements of a vast strategy.
“Hey,” I say, after a beat of silence. “You did good back there.”
“You thought I wouldn’t.”
“Barb.” A more honest yes than “yes,” because it is my name, and it acknowledges that I am the one with the doubt.
“I didn’t know if I would either,” Axis says, which feels exactly like I don’t know if I love you anymore. I lose control for a moment and the Apache rattles in bad air and the tail slews until I stop thinking and bring everything back under control in a burst of rage.
“You’re done?” I whisper, into the helmet. I have never even thought about this before. I am cold, sweat soaked, and shivering with adrenaline comedown, drawn out like a tendon in high heels, a just-off-the-dance-floor feeling, post-voracious, satisfied. Why would we choose anything else? Why would we give this up? When it feels so good to do it? When I love it so much?
“I just . . . have questions.” The tactical channel processes the sound of Axis swallowing into a dull point of sound, like dropped plastic.
“We don’t need to wonder, Axis. We’re gendered for the mission—”
“We can’t do this forever,” Axis says, startling me. I raise the collective and hop us up a hundred feet, so I do not plow us into the desert. “We’re not going to be like this forever. The world won’t be like this forever. I can’t think of myself as . . . always this.”
submitted by AlphaCoronae
Finding an Apartment in Houston: Comprehensive Guide
The Moving to Houston post
for newcomers has a lot of great info, but there are still a lot of repetitive posts/questions asked regularly. So, this is my attempt at a detailed guide to finding an apartment in Houston.
1) Where/How to Search
- Online Resources: Apartment List, Apartment Guide, Rent.com, Hot Pads, Apartment Data, Zillow, and Trulia to name a few. Apartments.com, Apartment Finder, and For Rent are all the owned by same company. HAR Rentals has improved for apartments as well. Searching on a computer or tablet is much easier with map features than on mobile. All of these big sites are going to be very similar with their data, but may have differences with filters or their user experience.
- If price or availability are not listed on these major websites or their own you may need to call or visit. Leaving voicemails, sending emails, or inputting your information on their websites are hit or miss with getting prompt responses.
- Other Resources: Craigslist – apt/housing- map view allows you to filter out floor plans and search certain areas, NextDoor can be useful, but you have to verify your address in the neighborhood to search, and Facebook Marketplace now has a Rentals section as well.
- Hidden Gems: Driving the areas you like and looking for “For Rent” signs can work well in higher density inner loop areas like the Heights or Montrose for smaller complexes and garage apartments. These units are usually vacant and available for immediate move-in.
- Apartment locators: They can be knowledgeable about areas and complexes to give advice and may have additional resources for searching and filtering. They can take out a lot of the legwork to find exact floor plans, pricing, availability, pet policies, upfront costs, ongoing costs, etc. Not all communities work with locators or pay low commissions, so you may not get all of the options working with one. Some locators will only send options that pay the higher commissions (ex: +100% one month’s rent). Some locators won't work with clients under a certain budget (ex: $1,000/mo minimum). For the ones that do pay locators, they are compensated a percentage of rent or a flat fee by the apartment complex and their services are typically free to their clients, especially in the Houston market. Some offer kickbacks to their clients for places with high-paying locator fees.
- Relocating: Signing a lease sight unseen can be daunting. If you have time to visit before your move around a month or so beforehand, it will probably be worth it. If you don't have time to or can't visit it might be a good idea to get a hotel, Airbnb, or similar temporary living for a week or two while you find a permanent residence. There are some shared spaces as cheap as $15-20/night. It may not be ideal, but it's temporary and beats being committed to an unfavorable long term lease situation. Some locators may offer live or recorded video tours for out-of-towners.
2) When to look
- Timing: Most apartments require a 30-60 day notice to vacate for current tenants, so availability usually doesn’t show up until a month or two beforehand. A lot of the lowest advertised prices are for units Available Now. If a unit or several have been sitting and the occupancy drops below 90-95%, they’ll usually start lowering prices or offering incentives. Some complexes will let you hold units for up to 30 days, but others can increase the price drastically for pushing the move-in date back even a few days. It all depends on the property management company and complex. If your move-in date isn't for a month or two, you can ask the leasing agent to send you a notice when a unit becomes available. You may find property managers/leasing agents to be inconsistent with following up, so might take you checking back in periodically or looking online again to see if anything is available. Having a flexible move-in date helps a lot when searching. I would recommend having at least a few days if not a whole week cushion between the start of a new lease and end of your current one to give you time to move or for unforeseen circumstances like inclement weather.
- Best times: Prices historically go up in the summer compared to the rest of the year since it is the most common time for people moving.
- Pre-leasing: They don't have this in Houston for most apartments like some college towns/campuses where students rent starting in August/September for the year.
3) Types of apartments, leases, units, and amenities
- Apartments: Most newer complexes are going to be what's considered a mid-rise apartments ranging from 3-8 stories. Building code only allows wooden structures to be 4 stories tall so that is most common. A lot of the older complexes that are 2 stories and there are a handful of high rises in places like downtown and uptown.
- Lease Terms: Most long term leases are 12 months, sometimes with better pricing at 13-15 months. The longest I've come across is an 18 month lease.
- Units: Efficiencies are typically less than 500 sq ft with a smaller kitchen area compared to Studios which are usually a bit larger at 500-600 sq ft. 1 and 2 bedroom units yield the highest cost per sq ft for complexes, so naturally those are the most common floor plans. 3 bedrooms are somewhat common, but are not at every complex. For what pricing is on 3 bedroom units, it might make more since to search for a rental home, which the best resource will be HAR.com and/or using a realtor. There aren't many traditional loft style units in Houston that were converted from existing construction. A "soft loft" tries to emulate some of those features like brick/concrete walls or exposed duct work. Town home floor plans are available at a handful communities that come with a private garage.
- Amenities: Most of the above resources will allow you to filter apartments for amenities like in-unit washedryer, pool, fitness center, wood floors, pet friendly, etc. Private garages and private yards aren't very common features, but there are some out there. Units with a den/study aren't as common either.
4) Floor plans
Most apartment websites should have floor plans available online. They will either have fancy made up names for the floor plans, a system where A means one bedroom and B means 2 bedrooms, or just use the square footage. For the A/B system they attach numbers with these starting with this smallest square footage (ex: A4 would be their mid-sized 1 bedroom). Leasing agents will tell you these as if you have them memorized like they do. Square footage isn't everything if it's an awkward shaped unit. Be sure to know the location of the exact unit you're looking to lease. There might be a reason certain units are less expensive, like if it has a bad view or say faces nearby train tracks. Older complexes may update certain units with things like newer appliances or back splash as tenants move out and call the older units they haven't updated their "classic" look, which typically has a lower rent price.
5) Costs involved
- Costs: You can expect to pay an application fee, administrative fee, security deposit, first month's rent, and applicable pet fees(more details below). Most property managers and leasing agents have set corporate pricing so there’s not a lot of wiggle room to negotiate. It can't hurt to ask for a discount, but you may only find this works at smaller owner operated apartments. You might have better luck asking for concessions on the up front costs.
- Concessions: For app/admin a lot of companies do what’s called a “Look and Lease” special where they’ll waive or reduce those cost if you sign within 24-48 hours. Don’t rush into if you’re not sure or not ready. Deposits can be waived or reduced with approved credit in many instances. A lot also give options for refundable or non-refundable deposits. Some offer other incentives such as gift cards, total move-in cost that include all fees and first month's rent, discounts on the first month's rent, free rent until a certain date, free month(s) up front, and free month(s) pro-rated over the course of the lease.
- Market Rent: Be aware with incentives like prorated free month(s) that your rent will be set to increase to the market rent at the end of your lease term. Renewing your lease for another long term might allow you to negotiate and is typically a lower cost compared to month-to-month market rent. They plan on your willingness to pay a higher rent instead of going through the trouble of moving
- Additional monthly costs: Many places have an additional $20-40 in monthly cost for things like pest control, (valet) trash, amenity fees, etc. that are added to the advertised rent. Be sure to ask about these and factor it into your budget.
- Pet Fees: Be prepared to pay a non-refundable pet fee, pet deposit, and monthly pet rent (per pet) at a large majority of apartment complexes. Most complexes have a limit of 2-3 pets. If you’re new to apartment living you might get sticker shock from how high these charges can be at some places. Factor it into your budget.
- Expectations: Don't have crazy, unrealistic expectations. If you think you're going to find a 2 bedroom apartment in downtown Houston with wood floors, stainless steel appliances, granite counter tops, and an in unit washer dryer for $1,000/mo you're going to have a bad time. Research median rent prices for the neighborhoods/areas you'd like to live and realize that additional amenities means higher costs.
6) Reddit’s 42 Rules for Apartment Searching/Touring This LPT post is 5 years old, but most everything holds true
and a lot of the same info is sprinkled throughout this post. Please remember to bring a government issued ID when touring.
- I HIGHLY recommend driving the area you plan on living, especially at night.
- Crime reports resource: HPD links you to City Protect (previously branded as Crime Reports) is pretty clunky IMO. I think the Lexis Nexis Community Crime Map is much easier to search.
- Security features to look for: Secure entrances and exits, good lighting, security cameras, security features in each apartment, on-call or 24-hour security guard. These do not guarantee there will not be any crime, but can serve as a deterrent.
- In-unit security/safety features: Texas law requires that rental dwellings have certain security devices. For example, exterior doors must generally have a doorknob lock or a keyed deadbolt, a keyless lock, and a peephole. Sliding glass doors must have a pin lock and a security bar or door handle latch. All rental dwellings must have smoke alarms installed by the owner. Hearing-impaired residents may also request installation of visual smoke alarms.
- Alarm systems: If you do opt to get one for your apartment, there are plenty of DIY options available that are easy to setup. If your system is monitored and you’re in HPD's jurisdiction, do not forget that you are required to get an alarm permit from the city that is $50/year and allows for 3 false alarms before they start fining you. Penalties for not having a permit with a false alarm are pricey and the police may not even respond to an alarm call if it is not registered and permitted. You can call to confirm your address is in the jurisdiction. Here is the one for Harris County that's $35/year with 3 false alarms too. Your apartment complex will more than likely require that they have the code if they need to access the apartment for maintenance or inspections.
- Spring/Tomball (3,070 units)- 21%
- Cypress/Waller (1,228 units)- 18.4%
- Humble/Kingwood (2,848 units)- 17.8%
- Friendswood/Pearland (2,368 units)- 15.8%
- Far West (4,754 units)- 15.4%
- Greater Heights/Washington Ave (2,022 units)- 14.8%
- Galleria/Uptown-(3,244 units) 13.9%
- North Central (3,048 units)- 12.9%
- Pasadena/Southeast (2,967 units)- 10.9%
- Alief (1,953 units)- 9.9%
Others: Gulfton/Westbury (2,910 units) 9%, Downtown/Motrose/River Oaks (1,382 units)- 7%, Bear Creek/Katy (1,993 units)- 6%, Clear Lake (1,418 units)-5%, Conroe (624 units)- 4%, Spring Branch (780 units)- 4%, Sugar land/Stafford (615 units)- 4%, East Inner Loop (512 units)- 4%, Rosenberg/Richmond (369 units)- 4%, Sharpstown (717 units)- 2%
- From a KHOU Article: Howard Bookstaff, General Counsel for the Houston Apartment Association, says landlords are not required to disclose that information to potential tenants.
“There’s no law that requires an apartment complex to notify you voluntarily whether an apartment flooded, but certainly you can ask questions,” he said.
- Chron Editorial calling for a change to this to inform renter's of flooding. House Bill 993 was written for this, but unfortunately died in committee in the middle of 2019.
- Be more cautious for apartments near bayous/bodies of water and in the flood plains. Pay attention to musty smells when touring and look for signs of mold. Ask lots of questions. You can opt for units on higher floors as a precaution for flood prone areas and it's in your best interest to have renter's insurance. See Renter's Right below if you find mold in your current residence.
9) Driving to work
Native Houstonians know this like humidity: you want to live as close to where you work as possible and avoid traffic.
- Resources: Google Maps (desktop only): click directions, enter the apartment address and your work address, the default is “Leave now” that you can change to “Depart at” or “Arrive by.” Can also be used for walking, biking, and bus routes with a “Last available” option. HAR Drive time will give you a radius of houses for sale that you can use the same area to search for apartments.
- Other transportation resources: Metro Rail, Metro Bus, Park and Ride , Walk Score
10) Apartment Reviews
Google Maps, Apartment Ratings
, and Yelp. Apartment Guide has them, but seem to be inconsistent.
I’d take all of these with a grain of salt and make sure to sort by recent reviews. One thing to look for is changes in property management. Apartment complexes are bought and sold regularly, which can be for better or worse. They often change names when they switch hands if there was a bad reputation.
Here is a standard application form
. A lot of places will have online applications like Blue Moon Forms that require similar information. Should have your ID of course. Have your previous addresses and landlord information ready. Some ask for personal references and always emergency contact information. Know the make/model and color of your vehicle along with the license plate number. There is typically rental history, credit, and background check. Income requirements can range, but is usually at least x2-3 monthly rent. They may ask for tax documents, bank statements, pay stubs, or an offer letters as proof of income. Be ready for app fees from $25-75/applicant which are usually charged up front. Other fees like administrative and deposits might be due up front or on move-in day. Most places have modernized to accept credit cards, but some still require personal checks, cashier’s checks, or money orders. If you don’t have a check book, a lot of banks will print a sheet of them for you for free or a small cost. Approval usually take 24-72 hours to process. In the meantime, ask to review the lease.
12) Signing a lease
- READ IT! Here’s a standard lease. Know what you’re responsible for, how to request repairs and how long they take, understand any fees or policies, community rules, guest rules and parking, pet policies, know what utilities are included or that you’re responsible for, if you can paint the walls, policies on maintenance and rules on them entering your unit, when is rent due, if you can pay online, late fees, renewal policies, subletting policies, lease termination policies, etc.
- For units that are currently available, do a final walk through and document any damages with the landlord/property manager. If repairs are needed make sure it is written into your lease and request that the repairs will be made before you move in. Take lots of photos.
- Ask for a copy to be scanned and emailed to you along with a hard copy for your records.
- Renewals: Apartments will typically reach out to you well before your lease ends to renew for another long term. If you plan on moving, your lease should have information on how much notice is required to vacate, normally 30-60 days. Renewals often see an increase in price, but could stay the same. Review the renewal and decide if you want to stay. If you fail to renew or give notice to vacate, you will more than likely move to month-to-month terms which can be an increase in rent price as well. Even in a month-to-month, you are still required to give the notice to vacate listed in your lease.
13) Moving in/Utilities
- Find out when/how you get your keys and/or fobs. Get any necessary access codes. Some complexes provide an inventory and condition form. You might have a grace period of a few days to fill this out once you get your keys. Don’t put this off or forget about it or it may cost you substantially when it comes to getting your deposit back. Again, take lots of photos. Request any repairs immediately.
- Do a change of address through the USPS.
- Learn the fire escape routes from your unit. It could save your life. Have an exit strategy.
- Renter’s insurance: call your auto insurance first and see what it looks like to add that to your policy. If not or if you want additional quotes, search online and should be able to find policies that are $15-25/mo. More places are starting to require this and costs are fairly low for the amount of coverage. Texas Department of Insurance info and Home Inventory Checklist
- WateSewage/Trash: this is almost always factored into rent or sub-metered as an additional monthly cost. If not here’s the link to Houston Water.
- Gas: most apartments are going to be all electric, which I’d assume is for safety and insurance reasons. If need to get it setup, here’s the link for Centerpoint Gas.
- Electricity: Houston is deregulated, meaning the grid is owned and ran by Centerpointe, but you are allowed to choose your retail provider. Power to Choose will allow you to put in your zip code for providers. Most apartments will probably be better suited with usage plans that have better pricing at 500kwh or 1,000kwh as opposed to 2,000kwh. If you have a 12 month lease, it’ll probably be easier to select a 12 month plan. There will be 3-6 month plans with lower pricing, but be aware if you don’t switch or get a new plan at the end of the term, you’re prices will typically jump up. It's a market so prices could go up or down. I prefer to just have it set up and forget about it, but that’s your call. READ THE FACT SHEET and know what you’re signing up for. There's a lot of gimmicky plans or ones with crazy fees. Centerpoint also has My True Cost that factors in delivery fees and usage. Search other posts in this sub about electricity prices for more input on this topic. Property managers should be able to give you a rough idea of usage from other tenants. Plan on higher costs for summer months. This is Houston.
- Cable/Internet: You might be stuck with whoever the apartment or area has with Comcast or AT&T. Ask beforehand who the providers are and try to get pricing. This will all depend on location for what’s available. Try and get this scheduled at least a week or two before move-in since there usually isn't next day appointments. Be ready for a 4 hour windows for technician arrival. You might hate these companies as much as everyone else, but please be kind to your technician. My little brother worked as one a few years back. They are on overbooked, tight schedules and get a lot of pressure from their management
- Movers: This one is tough. I’ve personally used one of the higher rated companies and had a mediocre experience. I’d still say to check Google and Yelp reviews or try to find a referral from someone. I’m not going to vouch for any of them. Just be careful not to get nickel and dimed for extra hours, additional wrapping/padding, bullied for a big tip, etc. My biggest piece of advice is to always get the FIRST appointment in the morning so you’re not waiting around if they take too long on previous jobs. Have heard countless horror stories about movers, so do your research and pray you have a good experience.
- Moving boxes: Try hitting up the Free section of Craigslist or stop by places like liquor stores and see if they have extras they’re throwing out. If you’re moving yourself I highly recommend investing in 2 furniture dollies like this and your move will go a hell of a lot smoother. Make sure the elevator is working before you move in if there is one.
14) “Aggressive” Breed Restrictions
Many of the larger property management companies have restrictions on weight limits and a list of dog breeds they consider aggressive. Emotional Support Animals are covered under the ADA
and Fair Housing
. Because of these rules, apartments typically cannot reject certified Emotional Support dogs based on their breed. You are still responsible for any damages your pet causes. Search Emotional Support Animal Certificate Texas if you would like to research this further. Use this information how you will.
15) Felonies, misdemeanors, evictions, broken leases, bad credit, low income
There are apartments out there that accept these, but might be tougher to search or filter on the websites listed above on exact policies for each complex. Most private/smaller communities will still conduct background, rental history, and credit checks, but might be more lenient than places with corporate policies set in place. There are some resources out there for companies that help with “Second Chance” leases, but be aware that it can be pricey as they require fees and deposits since they are essentially co-signing on the apartment. Criminal records are often case by case, after a certain period, and have a tendency to be more accepting of non-violent offenses. Here is an article that might be more helpful
. Broken leases or evictions often require it be after a certain period, under a certain amount, and/or paid off and may also require higher deposits. Bad credit may require a cosigner, higher deposit, or a certain amount of months paid up front. Houston Housing Authority
is a resource for low income housing options.
16) Renter’s Rights
Resources: Attorney General
, City of Houston
, Request to make repairs sample form
, Texas Law Help
, Houston Apartment Association
, Texas Apartment Association
. Calling 311 can also help if you need to report to the city any type of building or health code violations. If it comes to you suing an apartment complex, it will likely be through Small Claims Court
. You can pursue this on your own or with the help of a lawyer.
17) Student/Senior housing
I’m honestly not too familiar with these. For students, your university websites should have more information to be able to guide for on-campus living. Off-campus should be able to use the rest of this guide. For Seniors, some of the apartment websites above have options to filter for senior living and there are companies and websites geared toward this specifically.
18) Short term/Furnished/Corporate housing
Most advertised pricing for apartment complexes are for long term leases of +12 months. Complexes want to stagger when leases come up so they aren’t all in the same month. You might get lucky with pricing on a 3-6 month lease, but typically you’re looking at a huge increase in price. Companies may rent a block of apartments at a complex and rent out as corporate housing and there are companies in Houston that specialize in this you can easily find on Google. These are typically pricey as well. Some of the websites listed above have filters to search for apartments that have corporate housing, but may only list prices for long term leases and require you to call for pricing. Also check out extended stay hotels and websites like Airbnb, VRBO, or HomeAway and look for places that offer discount for stays over a month. Craigslist also has a sublet/temporary section
along with searching Facebook Marketplace Rentals.
Hope y’all find this useful. Please let me know if there's any additional information that might be helpful to add.
submitted by keepingitrealestate