The article has been automatically translated into English by Google Translate from Russian and has not been edited.
Переклад цього матеріалу українською мовою з російської було автоматично здійснено сервісом Google Translate, без подальшого редагування тексту.
Bu məqalə Google Translate servisi vasitəsi ilə avtomatik olaraq rus dilindən azərbaycan dilinə tərcümə olunmuşdur. Bundan sonra mətn redaktə edilməmişdir.

A huge apartment in Brooklyn for $ 500 a month: how the preferential program helped the family to rent housing in New York on the cheap


Nadezhda Verbitskaya

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Even before Jens Rasmussen and Maria Aparo decided to spend their lives together, they shared their impressions. Both, for example, had long theatrical careers in New York. And both left the city during the coronavirus pandemic to care for a dying family member. New York Times.

But living together in a 297-square-foot loft in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, was completely unexpected.

They knew each other only remotely, moving in the same professional circles for more than a decade. Aparo wrote on social media about her experience caring for her grandmother with Parkinson's. Then Rasmussen, who was temporarily living in Wisconsin to care for his ailing father, answered her.

They exchanged messages several times before Mr. Rasmussen decided to call. “In the end I said: “I'm going to contact you because I need to talk about it. And you probably do too. This is not a text conversation,” he said.

The first call was on Friday and lasted until late at night. Then he dreamed about her in a dream. And he spent the morning talking about her with his mother. They spoke again the next night, and the next. “Something we shared when we started talking was very intimate,” Aparo said.

On the subject: They save and leave the city: how rising rental prices turned the lives of New Yorkers upside down

The third call continued until sunrise. And the next day, Rasmussen bought a ticket to visit Aparo in Georgia. “I landed and she took me straight to her family,” he said.

It was April 2021. By May, they were already talking about the possibility of starting a family. “We both knew we wanted something very different than we did before the pandemic,” Aparo said, “and we quickly decided that starting a family would be one of those things.”


Jens Rasmussen, 52; Maria Aparo, 36
Profession: Performers and theater professionals

In 2015, Rasmussen founded the non-profit Bechdel Project with two theater colleagues. Aparo is currently involved with an organization that maintains a narrative that involves at least two female protagonists talking to each other about something other than men.

While Aparo and Rasmussen have plenty of space, they point out that loft life isn't as glamorous as some might think. “Basically, we live in a warehouse,” Aparo said. “A real workspace for living.”

The summer of 2021 has been a series of phone calls, video chats and personal visits. She went to Wisconsin for the funeral of Mr. Rasmussen's father. He went to Georgia for Grandma Aparo's funeral. And they began to figure out where they would like to live. “It was all very beautiful. It was like some kind of Nicholas Sparks novel,” laughed Aparo, referring to the popular romance writer. “But really, you can’t write it like that.”

They talked about Chicago and Atlanta. But they couldn't give up Mr. Rasmussen's Greenpoint loft, which he still had a lease on. There was not only 297 square meters, but also cheap rent. Cheap - only five hundred dollars a month.

“We are covered by the original loft law,” Mr. Rasmussen explained.

In 1982, the New York State Legislature passed Section 7-C of the Tenement Buildings Act. It is also known as the Loft Act, which created a new class of building in response to artists who converted industrial spaces, or lofts, into residential apartments for work. At the time, many of the artists living in these areas were being evicted as real estate values ​​rose in midtown Manhattan. Section 7-B of the Multiple Residence Act, advocated by artists such as Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, and Klaas Oldenburg, provided eviction protection and rent increases for loft tenants who passed the state's certification process.

Most of the tenants who applied for eligibility resided in Soho. But several Brooklyn-based artists also applied, including Mr. Rasmussen's mother-in-law from a previous marriage. She handed over the loft to Mr. Rasmussen and his first wife over two decades ago. But in the end they parted as friends. “In the divorce, I gave her all the money, and she gave me the loft.”

For the past 26 years, Mr. Rasmussen has lived there, on the site of a former potato chip factory. “Essentially my rent is fixed at the level it was when they first started filming in this building,” he said. “I am grateful for the loft law. Without this, we would not have been able to stay in the city.”

Rasmussen and Aparo returned to New York in September 2021. Eight months later, Luca's son was born in their bedroom. They knew they had enough room for their growing family—and more.

“When we decided to start a family,” Aparo said, “we wanted to keep making art. Luckily for us, we knew that we were in complete control of our environment. We are in a wonderful home. And we can create an environment that encourages family fun and creativity.”

The couple owns the entire top floor of the building. Half of it is a private living space with two bedrooms. While on the other half are two open-air studios, which Aparo describes as "blank canvases for creativity."

They charge for the commercial use of studios for film and photo shoots.

But they also provide space free of charge to individual artists and community organizations. Aparo, who has previously worked in the fetish industry, is particularly passionate about positive attitudes towards sex, mental health, and bodily autonomy. And the couple supports the work of solving such problems. After a case that overturned the constitutional right to abortion, they set up a one-year writing residency for Jeanne Dorsey. This is a playwright who is working on a project about Martha Goddard, who created the anti-rape kit today. They also provided studio space for women's reproductive rights organizations.

Holding Luca in her arms, Aparo noted that their parenting method is mostly focused on being positive role models. And that the same principle extended to how they used their vast space. “Having a public space,” she said, “a place that serves communities, I hope will have an impact on Luka. Our goal is to stay in the apartment as long as possible.”


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