Brenda McManus and Ned Drew still vividly recall the revulsion that washed over them when they first saw their tiny apartment in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of upper Manhattan. Navigating a dark, sloping hallway carpeted with artificial turf, they peered into a pair of small rooms whose walls—painted in gradations of garish blue and orange—resembled pages from an old Benjamin Moore catalog. The kitchen was in an equally sorry state, and the bathroom—outfitted with dingy pink tiles and a moldy shower curtain—arguably was in even worse shape.
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