Sunday, June 29, 2008

New Housing

So I entered into one of those infamous NYC lotteries for housing. But I thought I had a decent chance at "winning" this one because there are 100 units available in the building and because this particular lottery application was so freakin' complex that I figured "how many people could possibly fill this thing out?". Plus, they actually had a preference for people in the "performing arts". Why that's me!

On Friday I was called in for my first interview for the Schermerhorn House.

I guess that technically this means I'd won the "lottery" portion of getting one of these apartment, although there are still many more qualification hoops to jump through.

Of course, I had to bring in yet more documentation to the interview (in addition to the 12 or so pages I'd already sent them.) When I got there I was interviewed by a couple women from "Common Ground" (although it's possible that one of them was training and/or working for yet another organization.) They asked me all the questions which I'd answered on my application, plus a whole lot more, and they had me sign all kinds of stuff allowing them to do a criminal background check and credit check and to check with my employer and landlord, etc.

And then they ask me a long list of other questions like: would I feel comfortable living in a building with tenants who were elderly, or low-income, or formerly homeless, or HIV-positive, or mentally ill (I think my response was "sounds like half my family"). They asked if I had any felony convictions (you may be proud to know that as tempted as I was I didn't say "Oh, convictions? No... no... convictions.")*

I learned during the questioning that all guests at the new apartment building have to sign in at the front desk. And that means you can't just buzz them up, you have to go down to meet them. Furthermore you may not have overnight guests for more than 15 days out of the month (or possibly one just can't have the same overnight guest for 15 days, I don't remember).

Of course they can easily check their logbooks to see the comings and goings of said guests, so they'll know.

Then they explained that all residents would be assigned a "case worker". The question I was asked was if I minded having to check in with my case worker once a month. I said "no" of course.

I mean, this is for a $635/month 266 square foot apartment three stops into Brooklyn on the A and C lines. It's a pretty sweet deal. Is it worth meeting with my parole officer every 30 days for the savings of about $4000 a year? Sure. But it is demoralizing. Do I need a case worker because I don't make a lot of money? Or because I work in the arts? (Well, now that I think of it, maybe I do need a social worker to help me get out of theater...)

But the whole thing seems more like living in a halfway house than really having my own apartment. I think I'd rather get a single - bedroom in Harlem. Some of them are for less money than the Schermerhorn, although there are far fewer of those available and the chances of winning a placement lottery in one of those apartments is much lower. Still, I sent in my application for two more similar lotteries but I don't think I'd learn anything 'till August or September.

In any case, I have my next interview for the Schermerhorn House, with people from the Actors Fund, on Tuesday. The building's opening has been pushed back to October (when I first heard about it, it had been scheduled to open in June) so there's no big rush. Maybe it won't even open 'till next year -- new construction can take any amount of time so who knows? In the meantime I won't hold my breath, keep my hopes up, count my chickens before they hatch, or rely on any trite adages.


Whew, this has been an exhausting week.


*Better yet: "Which one's a 'felony'? Wait, if you shoot a guy during a bar fight, is that a felony?"

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