Real Estate

He Won the Lottery for an Affordable Apartment, After Years of Trying

Within the fall of 2013, Josh Bianchi was residing in a nine-by-ten-foot room in an unheated rehearsal studio in Bushwick, Brooklyn, when town condemned the constructing. He’d discovered the place on Craigslist, for $650 a month, and knew the state of affairs wasn’t precisely authorized: When he signed his lease, his landlord wrote “artwork studio” on every web page, even after making it clear to Mr. Bianchi that individuals have been residing there full time. He lived subsequent to a girl named Orion who had lately given up her pet rooster after the opposite tenants complained concerning the noise.

Conveniently, the constructing was a brief stroll from the bar the place he labored till 4 within the morning a couple of nights per week. It wasn’t his dream residence, but it surely was an inexpensive place the place he may lock a door and be alone. Plus, it allowed him to remain within the metropolis he liked. “It was how I held onto the bottom in New York,” Mr. Bianchi mentioned.

After town left an indication on the constructing’s entrance stating that the entire tenants had two days to evacuate, Mr. Bianchi panicked. He and some different tenants approached the Pink Cross’s Emergency Household Shelter, a program that primarily serves unhoused moms and kids, and provided to place a few of them up in a resort for 2 nights; as an alternative, Mr. Bianchi crashed on couches.

One night time, whereas Mr. Bianchi was working on the bar, a pal advised him about an article on the web site Gothamist about Housing Join, a web based portal launched in 2013 that enables New Yorkers to use for inexpensive housing lotteries. The concept sparkled in his head like a golden ticket. After discovering a brand new residence (additionally with out warmth) with one other former tenant of the recording studio, for $1,650 a month, Mr. Bianchi created a profile on the web site, and started making use of for residences.

Over the past eight years, Mr. Bianchi has utilized for numerous residences on Housing Join, and visited an estimated 14 locations for in-person inspections. The items ran the gamut, from unappealing shoe bins to barely-affordable residences in new-construction buildings.

In response to the HPD, over 45,500 items have been made out there between 2014 and 2021; many are sponsored items inside newer-construction buildings, in line with the Division of Housing Preservation and Improvement, which operates the lottery. Over half one million New Yorkers are at present registered on Housing Join, and eligibility for every lottery is decided by the applicant’s property and their revenue relative to the world median revenue.

Mr. Bianchi, who grew up in St. Clair Shores, Mich., had dreamed of transferring to New York since visiting with a choir group within the fourth grade. “It was type of all I talked about in highschool,” he remembered with amusing. “I actually wished to return out of the closet,” which appeared far simpler to do in New York than in Michigan. He lastly moved to New York in 2011, to attend Marymount Manhattan School.

“I had all these concepts about how cool it might be,” Mr. Bianchi mentioned. “And it was cool. I felt as unselfconscious as I believed I’d once I was 10, pondering, ‘I can dwell in New York and be so unusual!’ I’m a bit bit much less unusual now, however once I got here right here at 19, I used to be a free chook.”


$2,300 | Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn

Occupation: Content material operations affiliate at Gimlet Media

His second lounge: “I’m throughout the road from Doris, the bar, so I’ll invite folks over to see the residence, after which go to Doris and have a drink.”

The flip-side of Housing Join: “It might make you’re feeling a bit evil. In case you inform your pals concerning the lottery and so they get a spot, you’re pleased for them, however then there’s one fewer of those extraordinarily uncommon rent-stabilized locations.”


As he moved via school, finally transferring to Metropolis School, he lived in low-cost residences, principally in Bushwick, that he discovered on Craigslist. Then, for 3 years, he lived with a associate in Brooklyn Heights, the place they break up the $2,200 a month lease. However even that residence felt precarious in its personal means: “I at all times felt pleased that issues have been going nicely,” he mentioned, “however I’d get so anxious about lease hikes or unexpected circumstances or emergencies that will knock me again to a nine-by-ten room in an unheated constructing.”

After he and his associate break up in the course of the pandemic, Mr. Bianchi sublet a room in a pal’s residence for $835 a month, however dreamed of as soon as once more residing alone. He briefly thought of transferring upstate, however determined in opposition to it. The factor that has saved him in New York Metropolis, he mentioned, is that “right here, you possibly can hold dreaming.”

Lastly, final August, he discovered a rent-stabilized, $1,400-a-month studio residence in Williamsburg that ignored the JMZ subway tracks. It was so near the prepare platform, he mentioned, “I received to wave to my neighbors whereas they made their solution to work.” The prepare recurrently woke him up at odd hours. Whereas it felt like a hit to discover a place the place he may afford to dwell alone, and he received alongside nicely together with his neighbors, he nonetheless dreamed of one thing rather less rattling. That very same month, he moved from a job on the BBC as a digital content material coordinator to a better paying job as a content material operations affiliate at Gimlet Media — or, as he calls it, a “podcast handyman.”

In December 2021, Mr. Bianchi utilized for one more residence via Housing Join: a one-bedroom renting for $2,300 a month in a new-construction constructing in Bedford-Stuyvesant, which he may now afford. In January, he obtained an electronic mail saying he had certified to participate within the lottery, and will go to the residence. He additionally needed to submit pay stubs, financial institution statements, and proof that he’d been residing in New York for at the least six months.

On the displaying, “I used to be supposed to tug out my telephone to examine the cell service, or examine the water stress, that type of factor,” Mr. Bianchi remembered. “However I used to be blown away as a result of it had a balcony and a washer-dryer. I didn’t care what the state of affairs was, I went residence and despatched in an software.”

Two weeks later, he discovered he had gotten the residence. His landlord in Williamsburg advised him he may break his lease if he was capable of finding a brand new tenant, and he discovered somebody via a Slack channel at his work devoted to the New York housing search. Fortunately, she was a heavy sleeper.

Transferring into his new residence has afforded Mr. Bianchi the peace and safety he has been looking for via eight years of Housing Join lotteries. Like his previous residence, the brand new residence is rent-stabilized, so whereas he may face lease will increase, they’re based mostly on approvals by town’s Hire Pointers Board. “It soothes so lots of my anxieties, to hold up footage with out worrying that in six months I’ll have to depart my residence,” Mr. Bianchi mentioned. “This can be a residence that my dad and mom can come go to, the place I could make dinner for somebody. It’s my brilliant little sanctuary.” His crops are loving the ample gentle from the big south-facing home windows, and he has lastly been in a position to construct cabinets to accommodate his assortment of books.

Whereas transferring to New York was a success of a childhood dream, this residence has fulfilled a newer one. When he was residing in an unheated residence in Bushwick, “I’d stare at these new residence buildings within the neighborhood being like, ‘Who lives there? How is anybody residing there?’” Mr. Bianchi remembered. “And I simply wished a lot that I may dwell in a kind of glass block residences. I at all times felt like, ‘I want somebody would ask me to dwell in a kind of.’”

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