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This Couple Won Their Dream Apartment Through the N.Y.C. Housing Lottery

When the pandemic began, Susannah Dalton and José Ignacio Vivero were living in a basement apartment in Sunnyside, Queens. “It wasn’t bad during Covid,” Ms. Dalton said, “because it had a strong bunker feel and that was the vibe back then. This was back in the early days when we were, like, Windexing groceries.”

But they were focused on brighter days ahead and spent their time in lockdown looking for better living conditions.They began by completing an application for NYC Housing Connect, the online portal that matches renters with open housing lotteries. “We thought, well, let’s just start putting our hat in the ring,” recalled Ms. Dalton.

They needed to escape the bunker, but they hoped to stay in Queens. During their 17 years in the city, it’s the only borough they’ve ever lived in, and it’s provided them with a sense of community and belonging — and funding for their work. “We’re lucky because, as artists, we get a lot of grant funding, and the Queens Art Fund has been so supportive,” Ms. Dalton said.

She and Mr. Vivero share a background in the theater. They both acted for several years, but she eventually moved into writing and he moved into directing; they founded Pin Productions in 2009 and started producing live theater. “Some people are waiting for an opportunity,” Mr. Vivero said, “but we thought, no, we want to create the opportunity for ourselves and enjoy them with other people, other artists.”

While the couple’s video production is confined to the studio space they’ve created, musical instruments and other equipment for their work spill out into the rest of the apartment. Credit…Andrea Mohin/The New York Times

Before the pandemic, they worked for several years on a handful of productions, but Covid put an end to all of that.

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