My character moved to NYC in 2005. He is supposed to have moved in with a friend of a friend who had a place 'in the East Village', but for my purposes that has to have been a bit of an exaggeration and he is really living in a shabby apartment (think: tenement, not necessarily a slum). So my question is - is there an area that is near enough to the East Village so that if you really stretched it, it wouldn't be a lie, but wouldn't be part of the gentrified area of the East Village.
Google brings me to Alphabet City, but it seems as though that has really become gentrified since the days of Rent. Is there any part of that area that is still a little sketchy? Any help you can lend at all would be most appreciated! Doesn't have to be anything more than a street name - just so that native New Yorker's eyes won't roll too hard when they read. He will have moved to the actual East Village by 2008.