The Social Housing Question

As New Yorkers look to the past, present, and future of social housing, we find more questions than answers.

Over the past nineteen years, I have lived in twelve New York City apartments. Nine of them were rent stabilized; in four of those my name was on the lease, and in five of them I was a subletter or a roommate. There were two market-rate apartments, one of which was really an illegal single room occupancy.

I was evicted from one of the subletted rent stabilized apartments. You’re supposed to get the landlord’s permission when you sublet a rent stabilized apartment, but in this case the leaseholder didn’t want to do that because the landlord was in prison for attempting to kill the downstairs neighbor and burn down the building. Before the landlord went to prison, though, he seems to have passed the building—and several others he owned—to his brother, whose limited liability company collected the rent (and at least in my building didn’t do much else). Shortly before the old landlord was set to be released from prison, the brother hired a private detective to sniff out any renters whose tenancies weren’t 100 percent kosher. The leaseholder got me a lawyer, but all he co…

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