You will probably need to drive around the areas you're interested in renting in & look for Privately posted For Rent signs vs. contacting a property manager who has a rental listing. The property manager is going to kick you to the curb faster because of the low FICO score BUT if you can just work directly with Mr. Landlord you're going to be better off.
I think you should start off your letter going back to the Fall of 2004 when you were able to buy your Tustin home & you were married 'working' as a homemaker, then discuss the decline, the divorce & your current situation, but that you're working, you CAN pay rent, you've been a homeowner, you'll treat their place like your own & take good care of it & you'll pay on time.
Homeowners just want to feel comfortable that you're not going to trash the place & you're going to pay on time. If your landlord wants to do some investigation, I STRONGLY suggest you have your current listing agent take OUT of your MLS listing that your home "needs work", this is currently listed in the "private remarks" section. If I can find this, your future landlord may be able to as well w/ the help of a Realtor friend.
Shoot me an email directly if you'd like to talk to me about this further, I don't look back on this same Trulia posting for answers after mine. P.S. you may want to take your Real name off Trulia.
Emily S. Knell
Realtor Since 1996
Realty ONE Group
100% short sale success ratio
& I can Prove it
Also, check out Village of Hope with the OC Rescue Mission. It's by Red Hill and Edinger.
I'm sure thing will work out.
I guess since you said that you a short selling your house that you must be in escrow already and closing in a month that is why you are in a hurry to find something. If this is the case, then there is a non profit that my sister is involved with "Family Promise" that will help with housing for you and the kids. Shoot me an email and I will give you my sisters name and number so she can see what she can go.
Also, can the out of state person put in any funds for you to get in some where? Can you get additional support money from the ex?
I am very sorry to hear of your plight and I hope you and your kids will be ok. Go online and do a search for Section 8 housing for Orange County. One such place is Mercy Housing http://(www.mercyhousing.org) which lists rentals in Anaheim currently. I believe you will have to go through a Section 8 approval process but it is designed for folks in your situation.
I sincerely hope for the best for the three of you, and I will let you know if I run across anything else that might help.