Finding an apartment in New York City can be one of the more stressful events in one’s life. The unwritten rule; you will spend more than you anticipate. But what about the residents who cannot afford to spend more than they can truly afford? Those who live on assistance, have a disability, or families whose budget cannot be stretched; their options are limited and in many instances their future depends on the result of a lottery.
From the mid-1970s to this day, hundreds of thousands of units been rehabilitated in NYC. For the past 20 plus years I’ve had the opportunity to photograph a cross section of these units…the gut demolitions, the new brick, mortar, sheet rock, caulk, tiles, shingles and paint… and I have been afforded the opportunity to photograph the people who live in these buildings.
A long time client, The Community Preservation Corporation (www.communityp.com), a NYC based financier of affordable housing hires me to photograph and document their investments. Some sites are architectural gems and some sites are just the opposite. But what always interests me is the people story; those whose lives change because they have a decent place to live. One of their (CPC) more recent projects was assisting in the financing of a non-profit’s group residence in Brooklyn.
Art (above) was photographed in his studio apartment in 2012. He played the guitar for me and told me a little about his life. It was hardship central, but he had the most amazing attitude for someone who had struggled for so long.Art displaying one of his handcrafted guitars.
Late in 2012 I photographed sites for Lemlee & Wolff (www.lemlewolff.com) in the Bronx and upper Manhattan They have been affordable housing developers for 75 years, building and renovating existing housing stock. I plan to return to some of these sites later this year. Besides capturing the construction shots I am also looking to photograph and talk to the residents.
Above, a grungy Bronx kitchen and below a “floor thru” in Washington Heights.
The remarkable transformation below.
Look for a continuation of these stories in the spring and in the meantime I’ll post some dramatic shots from my archives.
All Photographs: Ronald L. Glassman/www.rlgmedia.com