As far as the security deposit goes, it's pretty difficult to find landlord's that are willing to reduce or eliminate it, but it can be done. Just remember that you're asking them to give something up, so you'll probably have to do the same in one way or another. You're probably looking for a distressed homeowner, pre-foreclosure, etc. It's definitely not ideal, but there's a lot of renters in the market and most legitimate landlords will wait to find someone willing to put some skin in the game. If you don't want a foreclosure property, another place to try is an apartment complex. They usually won't completely eliminate the deposit, but you can find a reduced one.
Here are some good areas to consider based on school rankings/ low crime:
Hope this helps!
Ali, Community Manager