Instead of boarding up an unoccupied luxury condo in Crown Heights and letting it fall into disrepair, the owner has done the unthinkable: arranged to let homeless people live there. The new apartments, which were originally priced up to $350,000, seem pretty nice; one resident who moved in with his wife and two young daughters tells the Daily News, “When I first saw it, I was like, ‘Damn, everything is brand new.’ It has marble counters and marble floors in the bathrooms, too. I like the big kitchen. That’s my favorite.” Another new resident, an out-of-work truck driver from Miami who’s living with his teenage son, crows, “The closet in the main room is so big you could put a twin bed in there.”

In the spring of 1989, thousands of students from China’s elite universities occupied Tiananmen Square in Beijing for weeks to protest government corruption and demand democracy. More than a million people took to the streets. Then on June 4, as the world watched, Army troops and tanks rolled into the square, firing on the crowd and killing hundreds.

How long can the regime keep expressions of discontent from snowballing again into something that threatens its power? This remains an open question, especially in light of the global economic downturn, which has not hit China as hard as it has many other countries but has led to a staggering number of factory closings and prompted an urban-to-rural migration of many workers who are not happy to be heading home. This is a phenomenon to watch, since economic frustrations were a crucial spur to action in 1989 and are likely to figure centrally in the next big challenge the leadership faces from below.