Its floor plan remade, the unit then typically falls out of government purview, leaving the landlord to charge more or less whatever he wants. In one building on East 26th Street, this creative approach to profit building contributed to the loss of 39 rent-stabilized units between 2020 and 2022. Against so many initial projections, Covid did not result in a great exodus from New York City, and a price slash; in November, the average rent for a Manhattan apartment reached $5,249, an increase of nearly 20 percent over the previous year.
Frankensteining is merely one of the more novel ways that low- and middle-income New Yorkers are under assault as the pandemic recedes and the economy reshapes itself. An emergency rental assistance program has since ended even as housing costs have gone up; so too has the additional federal aid that was given to recipients of food assistance at a moment when inflation has caused grocery prices to soar. And now, budget proposals being negotiated at the city, state and federal levels seem to carry the promise of only more disruption.
Photographed for The New York Times, with words by Ginia Bellafante‘Frankenstein’ Apartments and Crippled Libraries: Is This New York’s Future?
After surviving the worst of the pandemic, the city now faces budget cuts that seem to promise even more disruption.