‘All kinds of discrimination’: inside the secretive world of New York housing co-ops

Originally published in The Guardian on February 08, 2022.

The exclusive buildings, which make up most of Manhattan’s apartment stock, operate with impunity. Getting access can be a nightmare

At the end of last summer, Claire and her partner, Alan, found the perfect New York apartment.

“At the time we naively thought the mortgage process would be the most difficult part,” recalled Claire. “Little did we know.” The first-time buyers were suddenly confronting the reality of trying to purchase an apartment in a market-rate co-op building.

They worked on their application for a month. “We submitted every piece of financial paperwork you can possibly imagine,” said Claire. “Bank statements, W2s, tax returns, gift letters explaining any sums of money we had received from third parties. No stone was left unturned in terms of our financial history.” They wrote a letter stating why they wanted to live in the building, and provided 12 other letters including personal and professional references.