This has been going on for years here on LI. Trying to make enough $ to rent someplace decent, or miracle of miracles BUY someplace seems impossible. But yes,I think it can be done. You have to get a little creative, and I don't mean by doing anything illegal.
One thought is buy a 2-family house (a legal 2-family). You live in one side, and rent out the other. It's a major pain being a landlord, but the key to that is finding the right tenants.
Or buying a house with a legal apartment in it and renting it out.
The income from the rent will help wash the cost of the mortgage and taxes, plus you get the writeoff while buying the property (a nice bonus at tax time).
Another thought is to buy a property along with a friend - have everything drawn up legally with lawyers, paperwork, etc.
I had a couple of cousins do the rental thing for a few years. No they weren't in the most upscale areas, but not in bad areas either. They bought what they could afford and figured in a realistic rent.
And while you're still in your mom's house, take advantage of the monetary situation and try and save as much as you can instead of spending as much as you can. A nice downpayment can make the difference between having to split the cost of a house with someone else.
Hope this helps.