Williamsburg Man’s $450/Month Closet Revives the NY Times Real Estate Section


Today the New York Times real estate section, the paper’s not-so-subtle attempt to start an all-out class war, brings us the story of one Jack Leahy, a young musician in Williamsburg who lives in what essentially amounts to a crawl space. The space is just nine feet long, only four and a half feet wide, and oh yeah, just five feet high. And how much is Leahy paying to live in this very obvious death trap? $450.

“I think I was happy to be in New York and that I actually had a place,” Leahy tells the newspaper. His main goal is to get signed to Captured Tracks record label, which, if he’s successful, might pay him enough to live in a place that he doesn’t have to climb a ladder to get into and that isn’t above a performance space Leahy almost accidentally fell into once. “Too much moving around up here doesn’t feel safe,” says Leahy.

Why not just call the column “How the Other Half Rents”?

“Yeah, the cholera is bad, and it gets pretty hot in the summer, but this deal really can’t be beaten. You end up exploring the city a lot, just to get away from the rats. Great waterfront.”

Close enough: The closet living space dispatch marks the first in a new column called “Renters” for the real estate section, which the New York Times is re-launching whole this weekend, promising to feature “more service-oriented and visual journalism.” Other new columns include “Voyeur,” which will feature photos of out-of-control development, “The Fix,” which will follow gut renovations of previously rent-stabilized apartments as they are flipped for the luxury market, and “360 View,” a column that will try to give life to the fun “quirks” of the real estate market, like displacement and eviction.

This is all being done as the luxury condo market, whose advertisements have packed the dwindling pages of the Sunday Times for years, dries up, and is replaced by the vagaries of the super-charged rental market, so accordingly the Times real estate section must change as well.

As for Leahy, he tells the paper he’s signed on to stay at the space for another year. Yes, things are getting so bad in the New York City housing market that someone has decided to sign up for another year of overpaying to live in a glorified coffin. Who knows? Maybe his landlord will decide to just randomly give him a roommate one day. Anything’s possible now. The world is the Real Estate section’s oyster. Wait —anyone out there living in an oyster? Would make a great photo spread!