How One Startup is Revolutionizing the NYC Housing Landscape
February 10, 2017

At Quake, we’re always looking for innovative solutions to pressing societal problems. Since we’re based in New York, there’s one problem in particular that has been catching our eye more than usual lately—the skyrocketing rents for apartment rentals in NYC. With the city’s population growing much more quickly than the housing supply, even neighborhoods that were previously considered less desirable might now carry monthly sticker prices of as much as $3000 for a small apartment. This problem, of course, affects some populations more than others, with young professionals and the international community finding it especially difficult to find an affordable place to live.

Enter Literati, a real-estate startup based in Astoria, Queens. With 110 rooms available and rents as low as $950 per month, Literati offers an alternative to those challenged by the rising rental rates in the New York Metro Area. Strategically located near major subway lines, the company targets young professionals, interns and graduate students by providing them with lower rents while avoiding making their commutes impossible.

But price isn’t the only way that Literati provides value to the New York housing market. The startup is part of a larger trend of “co-living” that is becoming more and more prevalent among younger millennials as they struggle to recapture the things that they had during their college dorm days: a furnished apartment, a sense of community, and someone to call the plumber. Literati’s apartments are set up to provide living spaces similar to those in college dorms, but for adults. Rooms are usually shared, and the company structures their roommate selection process to match individuals with similar educational or professional aspirations. If college students aren’t getting as much as they hoped out of their college dorm experience, they are welcome to try Literati as well—the service is listed as an off-campus housing option at universities including NYU, Brown, and Columbia. International organizations such as the United Nations, the Clinton Foundation and CIEE also promote Literati, as members of the international and ESL communities stand to benefit greatly from inclusion in a co-living community, especially in a neighborhood as diverse as Astoria.

Co-living has quickly progressed from a niche market, reminiscent of communes and “hippie” days, to an innovative and fast-growing industry. Building off the hype of the co-working trend and the success of companies like WeWork, large co-living startups like Common have raised millions in venture funding. Literati is differentiating itself from these larger competitors through its unique use of technology, having invested in sophisticated property management software to streamline hospitality metrics and ongoing tenant issues and requests. In order to appeal even more to international residents, Literati is also working with credit bureaus to offer foreign tenants the opportunity to build a credit history in the United States.

With recent cultural shifts like frequent traveling and working from home becoming apparent, the co-living trend is an important phenomenon to watch for prospective investors and tenants alike. Not only are companies like Literati helping to solve the affordable housing problem in a sustainable way, but they are also helping young people in an increasingly fragmented world find a micro-community where they belong.

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