In addition to contacting your local city and finding out what services they can offer, contact the Salvation Army. I'm not affiliated with them in any way, but they'll help you and provide advice.
Second, you need some guidance/help so you can make better decisions regarding your life going forward. Looking back, you'll probably see some places where your decision weren't the best. (We all make occasional bad decisions.) But a number of things even in your recounting (your ex taking money out of the bank before you could stop the direct deposit, turning the house over to him, "not telling much" to owners and agents) all suggest a pattern.
To digress a moment: I deal with lease options, helping people buy who have credit problems (among other problems). And there are two types of tenant-buyers with credit problems: Those with a good pattern and history, but then ran into some problem--divorce, medical problem, death in the family, loss of job, etc. That one problem was the primary reason for their difficulty. They've addressed the problem and are trying to rebuild. The other type of tenant-buyer with credit problems is one who's had credit problems for decades. They may be "bad" people--always skipping out on landlords, going in and out of jail, etc. Or they may be "good" people who keep making bad decisions or always seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Lease-option investors like the first type of tenant-buyer. They don't like the second type. Just off the bat, you sound like a good person who keeps making bad decisions. For instance, trying to hide your past from an agent or landlord is a bad decision. People who make bad decisions have to break that pattern.
The other advise below is very good. Individual landlords will, in general, be far more willing to consider you as a tenant that will someone using a management company or a Realtor. Frankly, I've used a Realtor to find tenants for me, and an applicant with your history wouldn't get past the Realtor's screen. However, your chances are much better dealing with the individual owner. But you've got to be honest with them. As you suggested in your question, you can make your offer far more attractive with co-signers, an additional deposit (though that often is capped by local laws or regulations), and a longer-term lease. Also, you have to show the owner that the problems you've faced in the past will remain in the past. Focus on your good work history and your ability to be a good tenant.
And, again, call the Salvation Army.
Hope that helps.