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How To Live In Manhattan For Under $700 Per Month

April 25, 2013

I remember the days when living in a Manhattan neighborhood seemed like an unlikelihood.

Yet, today, I write to you from a beautiful Midtown studio apartment with the following perks:

  • Walking distance to the Actors Equity Building
  • Walking distance to all the major Broadway theatres
  • Walking distance to numerous rehearsal spaces
  • Walking distance to Central Park
  • No trans-borrough MTA re-route craziness

I am so grateful for this insane opportunity that I’ve been blessed with, so I feel the need to spread the good news in hopes that someday you too can live in a kickass Manhattan apartment.  I present to you ….


Here’s how it works:

  • NYC selects various luxury apartment buildings to go by the 80/20 rule, meaning 80% of its occupants pay market price (those crazy prices in the thousands that we cannot quite pull off .. and “not quite pull off” is an understatement, indeed).  The other 20% are low income folk like many of us artists.
  • Applicants may download and mail in their completed application.
  • Applications are hand drawn, bingo style.
  • The lucky winners move on to the next step in the application process, an interview.
  • Then, you are on your way to getting your own space in a beautiful apartment building you could never normally afford.

To download applications, click here. They are updating it all the time, so check in regularly.  If your name is drawn, you can anticipate taking these steps to complete the process:

  • Initial Interview
  • Second Interview
  • Credit Check
  • Home Visit (this is where they have someone visit your home to make sure you’re not living in a meth lab or are crazy, or are a complete slob)
  • Certification (this is where you certify that everything submitted is true. You will also schedule a …)
  • Tentative Lease Signing (on the same day you will …)
  • Visit your prospective apartment
  • If all is finalized, you will sign your lease and have 2 weeks to move in
  • Voila!

This is the process, abridged   For me, the whole thing took about three months and they are on you about getting in more and more paperwork constantly.  Letters from employers, notarized letters from your landlord, pay stubs, proof of this, proof of that, proof of what you had for breakfast (just kidding).  You will jump through a number of these:

If you don’t hear from them right away, don’t worry.   I wasn’t contacted until after a year of applying.  They are always going to the next application in line and as long as you’re super organized, can provide all the documents they require, and fall within the income range, just keep your fingers crossed and you’ll be good to go.

What you can do now to prepare

  • Keep checking the site and apply
  • Keep the following documents:
  1. Any and all Bank statements
  2. Utility bills
  3. Current lease
  4. Pay stubs
  5. W2s and Tax Returns from the past three years
  6. All debit card transactions
  7. Birth Certificate
  8. Social Security Card
  9. Statements for any assets you may have
  10. An explanation for any money going into any of your accounts or assets

When you have attained every document they’ve requested, it should look something like this:

Then it’s up to you to organize it.  But the headache is all worth it, I promise.  You can have a view like this:

Picture of the Empire State Building and New York City skyline

There are other housing opportunities aside from the lottery, particularly for artists.  I’ve heard of:

  • Common Ground
  • Section 8
  • The Actors’ Fund

Here’s a great resource I came across.  It’s outdated, but the basic stuff still apply.  Check it out.

And if you know of any other programs, leave it in the comment section below.  I know there are even apartment buildings that are reserved for artists only.  How fun would that be?

Onwards and Upwards (in your new high rise in the big apple),

The not so Newbie Actor Signature

7 Comments leave one →
  1. April 25, 2013 2:41 pm

    This is so helpful! Thanks!

  2. April 25, 2013 3:24 pm

    I’m so jealous of your rent and excited for you all at the same time! You go, girl.

  3. April 25, 2013 5:53 pm

    Thanks Redhead. It’s never too late to apply; maybe you and the hubbie will score a place! 🙂 CrazyTA, good luck with your applications. Hope you become a Manhattanite!

    • April 25, 2013 6:00 pm

      I think we make too much because there are two of us :/

      But I did do a little scrolling through the co-ops for sale 🙂

  4. The Mothering Actor permalink
    April 25, 2013 11:57 pm

    Great Post! Totally demystified the whole process…always heard rumors but never really understood how it worked.

  5. April 26, 2013 6:39 am

    I was told they didn’t allow sublets in these housing units. On the one hand I understand that the building wants to keep the community they’ve built intact, on the other hand, it baffles me that actors can afford to not have subletting as an option for themselves when they’re out of town so often.

    • Katelyn permalink
      April 26, 2013 7:16 pm

      Yeah, it’s true no subletting. I’m not sure if that changes down the road after you’ve been in your unit for a while. I know for roommates, I couldn’t have one now, but after a year, I can.

      Guess if you get an out of town gig, you better hope it pays extra well and provides housing!

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