College Grads Reduced To Living In Tents In NYC


Is this how tent cities begin?

The New York Post today reports that two NYU grads and one UC Davis grad are living in tents in a Brooklyn back yard. They pay one of the people in the six unit apartment building in front of the yard $100 a month for access to the bathroom and kitchen.

We thought this might be one of those great iconic moments of the Great Depression 2.0–young people reduced to living in non-permanent dwelllings despite an abundance of housing. It seemed like exactly the kind of failure of economic coordination that signals a real breakdown of markets.

But, as it turns out, this isn’t that story. In fact, this seems more like evidence that despite everything, we’re still well off enough that people are engaging in harebrained schemes in hipster neighborhoods.

How do we know this isn’t a tale of economic desperation?

  • Location. It’s in Bushwick, which is where the hipsters fled when Williamsburg got too pricey.
  • Options. “We’re trying to make ends meet at a time when it’s hard to make ends meet,” said Louis Frank, 22. That sounds desperate until he says: “We have parents that could give us money to get an apartment, but it’s nice to be independent.”
  • Laziness. It’s not that these kids can’t find jobs that will pay the rent. They just don’t want to. “New York is the greatest city in the world, but you do have to ask yourself: Is it worth it to live here if you have to work twice as hard to pay rent?” one kid says.
  • Potential. “Some of the best law schools are in New York,” one of them said.

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