Thursday, August 2, 2018

I Am a Rent-Stabilized Tenant

East Village resident Susan Schiffman documents the apartments of rent-stabilized tenants living in the East Village for her Instagram account, I Am a Rent Stabilized Tenant. She will share some of the photos here for this ongoing EVG feature.

Photos and text by Susan Schiffman

Tenant: Caren, since 1987

Why did you move to the East Village?

It was so long ago, it’s hard to remember. All of my friends were living here, and we were hanging out down here. The first place I had was in Williamsburg, among the first wave of artists in 1984. I had a 9,000-square-foot loft I shared for $800. I floated around Brooklyn a bit and then I came here.

I’ve been in the East Village since the mid-1980s. Everything was going on here — it was an active art and music scene. There was a lot to do and you could afford to live here.

How did you find your apartment?

First I lived on 11th Street between Second Avenue and Third Avenue before moving here. I got both of the apartments through Chuck Walsh. He was a well-known realtor on Sixth Street.

I was working with a guy who was getting married. And it was, “Congratulations, whose apartment are you taking?” This was his girlfriend’s apartment. I got to take it over. My landlord didn’t even raise the rent. In exchange for doing work on the apartment the landlord kept the rent at the same price. I was married at the time. My old apartment was too small for the two of us. Even though this apartment is just 500 square feet, it is so much bigger than my old apartment.

What do you love about your apartment?

I love the light. That is the No. 1 thing. The light makes it feel more open and the windows face the street. I don’t think I could live in a space that was dark. It’s important to me. I like to feel time and the seasons moving, so it is important for me to see out.

Living in an apartment for so long you sort of rediscover what you love and don’t love about a place. There are days when I feel that my life is never changing. It's pretty much impossible to move unless you can afford to buy a place.

And then you have the flip side which is that I feel so grateful that I have this space. If I said prayers at night, I would pray that my landlord would live forever. I feel a real sense of gratitude, having this space. Being able to have it for myself and not need to have a roommate. It’s my little piece of the world in here.

If you're interested in inviting Susan in to photograph your apartment for an upcoming post, then you may contact her via this email.


Anonymous said...

wow, it is absolutely beautiful! i completely understand the occupant's conflicted feelings; hopefully she feels she can find change (if she wants it!) in other areas of her life. love this series, thanks so much for another wonderful installment!

Kurt said...

Chuck Walsh. Wow, that names brings back a flood of memories. He was my realtor as well or at lease his office was. I was given his name, I went to his office, a brightly painted yellow building on the north side of 6th and his assistant gave me the keys to an apartment to look at. I was confused because she just handed me the keys and told me where the apartment was located. I walked up four blocks, let myself in looked at the place and signed the lease a day later. A simpler time.

afbp said...

careful what you wish for---more often than not---chasing an unknown is a slippery slope---my two cents---explore/embrace/connect with this wonderful city---then return to a sweet place of peace:)

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful apartment, and I'm jealous of those fresh/clean white walls & ceilings! It's clear that this tenant maintains it meticulously.

I love the light and the sense of AIR that comes through even in the photos. What a nice retreat from the world outside!

I also hope the landlord lives forever.

Brian said...

Love it.