Bonnie Blue Edwards had long fantasized about taking over her three-bedroom apartment in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, where she has spent 10 years living with roommates. But when both of her roommates moved out in March — one departure was planned, the other wasn’t — it was far from a dream scenario.
It was the height of the coronavirus pandemic, and Ms. Edwards, 31, had been furloughed from her job as a content producer for a creative agency for theaters and museums when the venues shut down. More people seemed to be fleeing the city than looking for room shares.
Anticipating the long days ahead that would be spent almost entirely in the apartment — and considering that one of her roommates had moved out following a disagreement about social distancing — Ms. Edwards didn’t want to just take the first person who showed up with a check.
“It’s more than just finding someone to pay the rent. It’s someone you’re going to be in isolation with,” she said.
Potential roommates also seemed hesitant to move in with a stranger. When she posted the larger of the two empty bedrooms on Listings Project in April, noting that the rent was flexible, she received no responses.
Given the circumstances, her landlord agreed to a generous discount, dropping the rent to $2,400 a month for as long as Ms. Edwards is living there alone. (The new rent is several hundred dollars less than the pre-virus total, but substantially more than Ms. Edwards was paying when she split the amount with roommates.)
“I’m lucky to have a nice landlord who’s been understanding, and some income coming in,” said Ms. Edwards, who is able to cover the rent with money from a part-time tech-support job, her stimulus check and savings. But the situation is not sustainable. If she doesn’t find full-time work or at least one roommate by the time her lease is up in August, she will likely have to move out.
Until then, she has decided to make the most of her situation, reorganizing the apartment, tackling home-improvement projects and taking advantage of having, however briefly, a three-bedroom apartment to herself.
“I’ve tried to think creatively and ignore the fact that I’m now covering the cost of the apartment,” she said. “It’s been interesting to reimagine this space I’ve shared with roommates for the last 10 years.”
$2,400 | Crown Heights, Brooklyn
Bonnie Blue Edwards, 31
Occupation: Filmmaker and content producer for a creative agency that works with theaters and museums
When she told her landlord her roommates had moved out: “He was understanding, for sure,” she said. “Whenever my lease is up for renewal, if he tries to raise the rent, I try to talk him down, and he negotiates. We have a happy rapport.”
Low-cost improvements: Besides repainting the apartment, Ms. Edwards has been ordering inexpensive frames from Etsy to display items she had previously…