The Fever Dream of Landing an Apartment

Felicia Russo says her friends tell her she seems calm. But she says she’s freaking out on the inside: Her housing search is keeping her up at night.

Also part of the problem: Lately, she finds herself sleeping in a toddler bed.

For six years, Ms. Russo, 40, lived on the first floor of a cape-style house in Queens around New Hyde Park, Long Island, where she grew up. She was paying $1,400 a month for the space, but she’s been without housing to call her own ever since her lease there expired in mid-March.

For a couple weeks, she stayed in the basement of a friend’s place nearby. Now, she’s at her parents’ house, rent free, sleeping in a room with her spunky 5-year-old son, MJ Korol. She set up a toddler bed for him and an air mattress for herself, but he prefers the mattress, so they’ll switch.

With three of her sisters and one of their boyfriends also living in the house, Ms. Russo said, space is tight.

She did not want it to be this way, but her search for a studio or one-bedroom apartment within her budget — up to $1,600 — has not been fruitful.

MJ spends time at his grandparents’ house on a regular basis, but sleeping over initially took some adjustment. “He’s go-with-the-flow, so he’s not really questioning so much,” Ms. Russo said. “The first few nights, he was like, ‘I want to go home.’”Credit…Katherine Marks for The New York Times
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