We’ve all heard stories about friends of friends who have braved New York City’s steep real estate prices by living in a walk-in closet, or a 200-square-foot water tower, or a converted brick pizza oven. Last week, bartender Alana Reali came face-to-face with the depressing shit show that is the New York housing market when she posted a joke ad for a $30 per month Lower East Side “hip artist loft,” which was actually—as shown in the ad’s pictures—just a dive bar’s bathroom.

In an email to Jezebel, Reali wrote that in her five years in New York, she has witnessed the rapid gentrification and skyrocketing rents of the L.E.S. and other neighborhoods.

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“One day I was in the bathroom of one of the dive bars I work at and thought to myself that people are so desperate to live here that someone would probably even go so far as to live in a bathroom just to acquire a New York City zip code,” she wrote. “I essentially made the ad to test this theory and also to poke fun at what the Lower East Side (and New York in general) has become (from virtual crack den to brunch haven). I made the ad as unappealing as possible and only took photos of the bathroom which is the ‘room for rent’ and still got way more responses than I expected.”

Reali forwarded some of the responses to Jezebel, and they are tear-jerkers:

These emails, so earnest that I want to cry, demonstrate the dire need for affordable housing in the city. According to a new study released by New York city comptroller Scott Stringer, the city’s housing is almost three times more crowded than the national average—meaning people are squeezing into tiny dwellings to attempt to combat absurd cost of living.

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The study found that almost 1.5 million New York residents lived in just 272,533 apartments in 2013, and the number of “severely crowded” units (defined as 1.5 people per room) grew from 70,214 units in 2005 to 102,791 units in 2013, meaning the issue is only getting worse.

The unexpectedly compelling original Craigslist ad reads:

Love brunch? Totally heart NYC? I have a cozy artist loft available 10/1 in the heart of the edgiest neighborhood in Manhattan. A stones throw from organic grocery stores, the hottest brunch spots and hipster bars.

Room includes a window, a door, your very own bathroom and walls dressed with authentic NYC street art. Hot water included. I provide a space heater for the winter months.

The photos above would be your bedroom. The neighbors are kind of shitty but you can’t beat this price!

The shower is located at the Comfort Inn next door. I’ll personally introduce you to the door man Juan Pablo. Juan only works two nights a week so plan accordingly.

Looking for a roommate that doesn’t bring the party home, doesn’t smoke cigarettes (e-cigs OK) 420 friendly. No overnight guests. Week to week. If I like you, you’ll have a chance to take over the lease as I’m moving to Williamsburg in January to be closer to Five Leaves (which by the way is my FAV brunch spot)

This is a v rare opportunity to have a Manhattan zip code for Ohio prices. Looking forward to meeting my new best friend.


Contact the author at joanna@jezebel.com.

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Image via Craigslist.