Ashley Balcerzak |
Before Superstorm Sandy, Michelle Griffith had a solid credit score.

But the devastating storm drove Griffith from her New York beach home. She stayed with friends she knew from church, she checked into hotels, or she slept in her car — punctuated by visits to the hospital for sickle cell anemia, a red blood cell disorder.

Her debts began to mount. And her credit score dropped.

In 2016, Griffith was granted a Section 8 voucher because of her illness and through a Sandy program meant to help low-income families displaced by the storm pay for some rent. But voucher recipients must find a place to live within two months or they can lose the benefits, so the clock was ticking.

Yet Griffith was denied housing by landlords repeatedly because her credit score had fallen — even for a trailer home she had been excited about.

“Everything is credit — it starts with credit and ends with credit,” Griffith said. “Oftentimes, they don’t even let you see a property until you tell them your credit score.”