Words and photograph by Lizbeth Vazquez
Illustration by Katie Herchenroeder
“As I was getting ready to move on to an independent lifestyle, I had a really hard time trying to find a place here in New York,” C.S. said. The former CCNY student doesn’t want to use her real name, but explained that she felt she had to choose between paying rent and going to school.
“I ended up moving to my cousin’s house, renting a place in her basement in New Jersey,” she said. C.S. looks forward to completing her master’s degree and she’s grateful that her cousin had just bought a house and that she can rent the basement apartment. But she wishes she could have stayed in New York.
College students like C.S. have difficulties finding affordable apartments in New York City. The market rate for an apartment ranges from $2,695 in Brooklyn to $4,188 in Manhattan, according to RentCafé.com.
I interviewed New York real estate
agent Eric Lewis as he showed an apartment in Brooklyn. He said, “Most of my
clients are college students trying to hustle and get a degree while also
maintaining two jobs or maybe even three.” He said they need to work a number of jobs to
pay the rent, “I’ve definitely seen an increase in rents … I’ve also seen that
most of the apartments have not been fully furnished and if they do, they leave
the old paint behind the new one and floors just the same. I can only say that
New York overall is not going to get much cheaper.”
At a meeting of the Rent Guidelines Board, Oksana Mironova, a housing policy analyst with the Community Service Society (CSS) cited a U.S. Census report that shows a decline in New York’s population. She said, “With high rent burdens and limited choice within the market, because low rent apartment vacancy was about two percent in 2017, many low-income New Yorkers find themselves in extremely difficult housing situations,” according to Curbed.
What’s a college student to do?
For New Yorkers struggling to find affordable housing, there are some options. One is housingconnect.nyc.gov , a long- term solution where it might take a while to get a response, but it is a good resource to use. Housing Connect gives tips on how to find, search, and apply for affordable housing.
If this housing program is not for you, here’s another suggestion: Student.com lists rooms or cheaper apartments, if you want to share an apartment with different roommates. Also, streeteasy.com is another place to find rentals. It gives you options to choose from and shows you virtual pictures of possible rooms and apartments.
Some readers might have other ideas and we’d welcome any suggestions to make the process easier. If you have found affordable housing in NYC through different means, please reach out to us at email@example.com.