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I’m having a virtual rent party!

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UPDATE: When I was very young, I had a Winnie the Pooh birthday party which remains one of the highlights of my life. There were Pooh invites, Pooh stamps, Pooh decorations and a Pooh-shaped cake. But it was also a bit of a rarity, because my birthday is September 2nd, which always ends up being Labor Day weekend, the first day of school, registration day, hurricane evacuation day, etc. This weekend, on the 3rd, is moving day. I’ve been doing most of the moving myself, which probably isn’t a great idea since I still haven’t fully recovered from the Achilles surgery I had two months ago. On Sunday, movers will finish the job for bookcases, books and couches, at a cost of $790, which is half the rate that other movers quoted.

Why move when it costs so much money? Once I’m moved and sell my current house, my monthly expenses will be reduced by: $280 a month in homeowners insurance, $800 a month in property taxes, $300 a month in utilities, $500 a month in commuter expenses, etc. It will be a more reasonable economic situation for me, and, of course, Bananas, Tonga and Buster.

I still haven’t made it to the half-way point on my “Virtual Rent Party” fundraiser, which makes me nervous about getting through this first month. If you can make a small contribution to the movers on my birthday that would be greatly appreciated.

PREVIOUSLY:My name is Ken and I'm hosting an online/virtual "rent party" to help cover the costs (oh the costs!) of securing a rent stabilized apartment to move into in New York City. NYC is unique in many ways, including the expectation that the tenant pays a brokers fee to the realtor who is representing the landlord. This fee can be between one month's rent to as high as $20,000. In addition, before moving in you need to pay your first month of rent as well as a month as a security deposit. And if you have a pet, there might be an additional fee for each of them (one realtor quoted me $750 per pet). It's a lot of cash all at once, hence the idea of a rent party.

I hadn't realized that rent parties aren't necessary a "thing" in other parts of the country. But several people have said "What???" In the 90s, they seemed pretty common in New York: someone doesn't make rent, or has a period of unemployment between jobs, so the solution is a party where people donate at the door and rent is raised in a single night. I started googling to see what their history was and apparently they were quite common in Harlem a hundred years ago. Langston Hughes kept a collection of rent party invitations that look like simple business cards. Some advertise one price for those that are invited, another for strangers who just show up at the door. There was food, drink, entertainment. What a great way to solve a problem.

I can't serve food or drink virtually, but I can entertain you: with more of this rent party history, stories of some of the crazy realtors I encountered, and a peek at the place once I finally move in. (Here's one crazy story: a Corcoran agent sent me a video of one apartment in Brooklyn that included a poop smeared toilet! )

I'm moving, oddly enough, because I've been priced out of the suburbs, need to sell my house, and realized that rental prices 90 minutes from the city are comparable to those in the city--but in the city there isn't the time and cost of a commute. My dogs have to come along, of course, and they are originally from the Bronx and New Orleans, so they are happy to be among the bustle, and we will have some amazing parks nearby.

So, if you can spare a donation for entry to this ongoing party, I'll post updates that include stories from the Harlem history of rent parties, my own search for an apartment and what my dogs think as we prepare to move. I might even find a way to invite everyone to an online shindig before this is done.
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Donations 

  • Anonymous
    • $50 
    • 10 mos
  • Meredeth Oliver
    • $50 
    • 10 mos
  • Anonymous
    • $100 
    • 10 mos
  • Anonymous
    • $25 
    • 10 mos
  • Anonymous
    • $25 
    • 10 mos
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Organizer

Ken Foster
Organizer
New York, NY

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