Case Study No. 1: Actors
Seamus Mulcahy, Hallie Cooper-Novack, and Jillian Taylor
Yale School of Drama grads sharing a three-bedroom in Bedford-Stuyvesant.
What are the perks of living with other actors?
Jillian Taylor: They know exactly what you’re going through. We’re all in this together.
Seamus Mulcahy: I can always ask Hallie and Jill to read with me. They give great notes. Sometimes we run through lines at eleven at night, sometimes seven in the morning.
Hallie Cooper-Novack: We’re all definitely poor.
Are you competitive, too?
Cooper-Novack: Jill and I audition for the same roles because we’re both redheads. But it’s not weird because we have different qualities as actresses. I’m a little quirky, so I make a good ingenue.
Taylor: It would probably be more competitive if we hadn’t all gone to school together. Seamus and Hallie are like my brother and sister. If Hallie and I audition for the same thing and she gets it, I’d say, “Awesome!” But then she’d have to buy a bottle of Jameson for the house.
Case Study No. 2: A Fivesome
Melissa Clark, Derick Wycherly, Rafaella Soares, Will Bailey, and Christine Billard
Two couples, plus one, sharing a four-bedroom in Bushwick.
Rafaella and Will, when did you guys start dating?
Rafaella Soares: We first kissed, what, hurricane week? After that, nothing happened for a long time. Then in December, he brought me flowers. My friends would tease me, saying, “Rafa, you know you’re going to date Will.” And I was all, “No, he’s my roommate, my best friend. These things never work out.”
Will Bailey: It was hard at first. If it backfired, I couldn’t just take her off my G-chat list.
Christine, what’s it like living with two couples?
Christine Billard: Everyone is super-respectful. I actually didn’t even realize Will and Rafa were together until recently—that’s how respectful they are. They cook me dinner sometimes. I’ve never felt like a fifth wheel here.
Case Study No. 3: Seniors
Marcia Rosenfeld and Carolyn Allen
A clerical aide and a municipal employee sharing a two-bedroom in Ditmas Park.
How did you find each other?
Marcia Rosenfeld: My landlord told me about the New York Foundation for Senior Citizens’ home-sharing program many years ago. Carolyn is my third roommate. The first roommate I had moved to Manhattan when a friend offered free rent. You can’t get any better than that.
Do you see each other often?
Rosenfeld: No. She does everything by herself, and I do everything by myself. I have my own things, she has her own things.
Carolyn Allen: But it’s good to have someone around. In my old apartment, I’d hear noises, and that was really hard. I hope Marcia feels the same way about me.
Rosenfeld: Yes, of course I do.
Case Study No. 4: Urban Kibbutzniks
Talia Klein, Gabi Wachs, Kevin Siegel, and 25 other Columbia University students living together at the Bayit, a Jewish housing community in Morningside Heights.
What is the Bayit exactly?
Gabi Wachs: The 30-second pitch is that it’s a Jewish food co-op that functions like a kibbutz in Israel.
Talia Klein: There are 30 rooms and 28 people living here. Everyone pays $800 a semester for food and dues.
How do you make sure everybody does their share?
Wachs: We have weekly chores in the common spaces that everyone’s assigned on a rotational basis.
Kevin Siegel: Mondays to Thursdays, two people cook for everyone else in the house. Dinner is at 7 p.m.
How do you even cook for 28 roommates?
Klein: It’s a huge kosher kitchen! We also have a huge walk-in fridge, a huge freezer, and a huge pantry.
Wachs: The kitchen is totally nuts, especially on Fridays, when everyone is in a frenzy trying to cook before sundown. You have ten people at a time cooking ten different things, asking each other advice, and negotiating how to share the space.
Klein: Yesterday, for example, someone was pickling, someone was making chicken, and I was making apple crisp.
Wachs: It’s organized chaos. But part of communal living is making compromises. We all choose to live this way.
Case Study No. 5: The Opposites
Marti Gould Cummings and Trent Johnson
A cabaret performer and an art director sharing a two-bedroom in Hell’s Kitchen.
Ever been told you’re like the Odd Couple?
Trent Johnson: Marti’s not old enough to know who they are.
Marti Gould Cummings: Yeah, we do! Trent keeps track of the bills and deals with the landlord; I lock myself out of the apartment and have to call him. Trent’s very put together and soft-spoken, while the neighbors make noise complaints about me singing too loud.
Do you hang out a lot?
Cummings: Our schedules are so different, but when we do see other, we gossip. I call him Trenicia.
Johnson: Yeah, he’ll be coming down the street, see me, and start screaming, “Hey, Trenicia!”
Cummings: I’m going to put Trent in a wig and heels one of these days.