In case the Wall Street Journal hasn’t spelled it out for you, landlords have been colluding to convert historically low-rent housing into “luxury apartments” for decades. (If you don’t believe me consult your canceled rent checks.) At which point in this struggle to make tenants pay more for less do the scales tip out of balance for the average middle-class New Yorker—and does “rent poor” become “homelessness?” The question is more than academic for George Kushnir, Matt Hall and Khristian Kriate, three 18-year-old recent Brooklyn Tech grads not enrolled in college, and worried about the ever-declining economic horizons awaiting them when they leave the parental nest.
Last night, on 11th Avenue, they hit on the idea of confronting streetwalkers with the concept of “your house could very well be the sidewalk,” by assembling a found art-installation with recently discarded furniture arranged to resemble a living room. Says Hall of the stuff they found, “It looked like someone just got evicted.” The majority of those passing by seemed to be taking the whole-set up in stride, pacing around it–or skipping over it–without missing a beat.
“In this economy kids like us just can’t go out and get a job and find a place to live, so we’re dependent on society or our parents,” explains Hall, clarifying the provocation of the found-art set-up. “This asks the question, ‘where are we going to go?’ The street–this is sort of all we have.” Asked what the general reaction was, Kriate replied smiling, “we’ve gotten a lot of weird looks, no money yet though.”