News & Politics

Sympathy for the Hipster: Even Annoying Young Toffs Don’t Deserve Rent Scams


Queens Crap posts the sort of headline you expect to get the schadenfreude roaring: “Bushwick hipsters kicked to the curb.” They refer to a NY1 story about several young people who’d been living in 20 apartments carved out of a building certified for only six, with which the DOB caught up and evicted them.

Yet some QC commenters, contrary to common practice, actually show sympathy: “These aren’t hipsters. They are young kids starting out in life who were swindled and then flung out into the street.”

Whence comes this rare show of fellow-feeling for definitionally risible young tools in the latest New Williamsburg?

Partly it’s because this isn’t a rare comeuppance, but a common scam in emerging neighborhoods, and involves a class of people even more reviled than hipsters: landlords. We’ve come a ways from the days when they used to set fire to their own buildings, but these dirtbags will still screw tenants when they can. Recall the unhappy saga of 475 Kent Avenue in the previous New Williamsburg — that is, Williamsburg — where tenants unhappily discovered they were living in a matzo factory/fire hazard and had to go out in the street in January to forage for shelter. At least they got to move back in — but the landlord is still merrily scamming away, paying low commercial rates to maintain a block of artists’ lofts.

Maybe it comes from residual memories of what it’s like to be naive and vulnerable in this mean, dirty town. Granted, the truly poor have it much worse, and this story is not nearly as outrageous as the city’s threatened eviction of welfare families for paying what turned out to be the correct amount of rent. And kids can bounce back and even derive an educational benefit from being conned. But wrong is wrong, and just because the marks in this case wear expensive jeans doesn’t exempt them from our sympathy.

They get thirty days’ worth. After that it’s back to Look At This Fucking Hipster.


This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 7, 2009


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