Manhattan Miracle: Woman Paid $28.43 Rent for Apartment

NEW YORK (AP) -

In a city where rents have gone through the roof, one tenant held on to a real steal: $28.43 a month for a Manhattan apartment. That’s what Patricia O’Grady paid for the Greenwich Village walk-up where she moved in 1955. She stayed until she died recently at 84.

O’Grady lived there with three other women who swept the hallway in exchange for their $16 rent. There was no furniture, no sink, no bath, and no hot water or heat. But they had two fireplaces and a stove.

The other women moved out long ago, but that’s pretty much how it stayed till March when O’Grady died after she was hit by a car. By then, her rent had gone up by a dozen dollars in more than six decades. She refused offers for improvements from the building’s owner, Adam Pomerantz.

When her single light bulb went out, she lived by candlelight. During the day, she could be found at the nearby 14th Street YMCA, where she swam, showered and read the papers.

O’Grady always paid her rent early, Pomerantz said.

“I consulted with an attorney to find out if this rent was possible,” he said. He just had to tweak it a bit, using a rent-control worksheet to come up with a $1.98 increase.

Pomerantz now plans to gut and renovate O’Grady’s lifelong home into a two-bedroom apartment. The rent? Maybe about $5,000.