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

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In the fall of 2013, when the city blamed the building, Josh Bianchi lived in a 9×10-foot room in an unheated rehearsal studio in Bushwick, Brooklyn. He found the place on Craigslist for $ 650 a month and knew the situation wasn’t entirely legal. When he signed the loan, the landlord wrote “Art Studio” on each page, even after revealing it to Mr. Bianchi. People lived there full time. He lived next to a woman named Orion who recently gave up his pet rooster after another resident complained about the noise.

Conveniently, the building was just a short walk from the bar where he worked until 4am a few nights a week. It wasn’t his dream home, but it was an affordable place where he could lock the door and be alone. In addition, it allowed him to stay in the city he loved. “That was the way I got to the ground in New York,” Bianchi said.

Bianchi panicked after the city left a sign at the entrance to the building stating that all residents needed to evacuate for two days. He and several other residents approached the Red Cross Emergency Family Shelter, a program that primarily serves uncontained mothers and children. I offered to stay at the hotel for 2 nights for some of them. Instead, Mr Bianchi crashed on the couch.

One night when Bianchi was working at a bar, a friend told him about an article about Housing Connect on the Gothamist website. This is an online portal where New Yorkers can apply for affordable home lottery tickets. The idea shined like a golden ticket in his head. After finding a new apartment (also without heating) for $ 1,650 a month with another former tenant of the recording studio, Bianchi created a profile on his website and started signing up for the apartment.

Over the past eight years, Bianchi has applied for a myriad of housing connect apartments and visited an estimated 14 locations for direct inspection. The unit covered everything from unattractive shoeboxes to barely affordable apartments in new buildings.

According to HPD, more than 45,500 units were available between 2014 and 2021. Many are subsidized units in new buildings, according to the Department of Housing Conservation and Development, which runs the lottery. Currently, more than 500,000 New Yorkers are registered with Housing Connect, and the eligibility of each lottery is determined by the applicant’s assets and their income against the median income of the region.

Bianchi grew up as a saint. Clare Shores, Michigan has dreamed of moving to New York since visiting with her fourth-grade choir. “He was like talking to him in high school,” he recalled with a laugh. “I really wanted to get out of the closet,” seemed much easier in New York than in Michigan. He finally moved to New York in 2011 and attended Marymount Manhattan College.

“I had all these ideas about how cool it would be,” Bianchi said. “and it is was How nice. I felt as unconscious as when I was 10 years old, and thought, “It’s very strange to be able to live in New York!” It’s no wonder now, but when I came here at the age of 19, I was a free bird. “

$ 2,300 | Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn

Profession: Content Operations Associate with Gimlet Media

His second living room: “I’m across from the bar Doris, so I invite people to look at the apartment and then go to Doris for a drink.”

Behind the housing connect: “It can make you feel a little evil. If you tell your friends about the lottery and they find a place, you’re happy with them, but these very rare rents are stable. There is one less place. “

When he graduated from college and eventually transferred to City College, he lived in a cheap apartment, mostly Bushwick, which he found on Craigslist. For the next three years, he lived with a Brooklyn Heights partner, where they split a monthly rent of $ 2,200. But even the apartment felt unstable in itself. “I was always happy that things were going well,” he said. Up to 10 rooms in an unheated building. “

After the split between him and his partner during the pandemic, Bianchi subleased a room in his friend’s apartment for $ 835 a month, but dreamed of living alone again. He briefly considered moving to the north, but he decided to oppose it. What keeps him in New York City is that “here you can keep dreaming of him.”

Finally, last August, he found a stable, $ 1,400-month studio apartment in Williamsburg overlooking the JMZ subway tracks. He said he was so close to the train platform that “neighbors had to wave their hands while they went to work.” The train woke him up at odd hours on a regular basis. He felt successful in finding a place to live alone and made friends with his neighbors, but still dreamed of not rattling a bit. That same month, he moved from working as a Digital Content Coordinator at the BBC to a high-paying job as a Content Operations Associate at Gimlet Media. He calls it a “podcast handyman.”

In December 2021, Bianchi applied for another apartment through Housing Connect. Bedford-Stuyvesant’s new building has one bedroom to rent for $ 2,300 per month, and now you can afford it. In January, he received an email stating that he was eligible to participate in the lottery and could visit his apartment. He also had to submit a pay slip, a bank statement, and proof that he had lived in New York for at least six months.

At the show, “I was supposed to unplug my cell phone and check cell services and check water pressure,” Bianchi recalled. “But I was surprised because there was a balcony and a washer / dryer. I didn’t care about the situation and went home and sent the application.”

Two weeks later he learned that he had an apartment. The landlord of Williamsburg said he could break his debt if he could find a new tenant, and found someone through the Slack channel in a job dedicated to home search in New York. Fortunately, she was oversleeping.

Moving to his new apartment brought the peace and security Bianchi was looking for through the eight-year Housing Connect lottery.Like his old apartment, new apartments have stable rents, so he may face rent increases, but they are City Rental Guidelines Committee.. “Cut a photo without worrying about having to leave the apartment after six months relieves much of my anxiety,” Bianchi said. “This is a house that my parents can visit and I can cook dinner for someone. It’s my bright little sanctuary.” His plants give enough light from a large south-facing window. Beloved, he was finally able to make a shelf to store his collection of books.

Moving to New York was a childhood dream come true, but this apartment has come true. When he lived in an unheated apartment in Bushwick, “I was looking at the buildings of these new apartments in the neighborhood as follows.” Who lives there? How about the people who live there? “Mr. Bianchi remembered. “And I wanted to be able to live in one of those glass block apartments. I always said,” I wish someone asked me to live in one of them. I felt.

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