Apply Now For Truly Affordable Artist Housing

by Whitney Kimball on May 28, 2014 · 1 comment Newswire


El Barrio PS 109 Artspace, Image courtesy of

This morning, we received an email that we couldn’t believe:

Affordable Rental Housing Opportunity
Applications to 89 affordable rental units at El Barrio’s Artspace PS109 are now being accepted. El Barrio’s Artspace PS109 is located in the East Harlem section of Manhattan.
Applicants who are artists and live in New York City receive a general preference for these apartments.

A rendering of an El Barrio PS 109 Artspace apartment. Image courtesy of

A rendering of an El Barrio PS 109 Artspace apartment. Image courtesy of

Affordable artist housing: it’s real! After its $52.2 million renovation, the East Harlem school-turned-affordable housing space is now accepting applications for its apartments ranging from 500 to 1,000 square feet, with rents ranging from $495 for studios and $1,022 for two bedrooms. Based on the photos, this comes with vast countertops, high ceilings, multiple rooms, and ginormous windows. Preference for half of the units will go to East Harlem residents, and it’s all for artists.

See the apartment sizes and income requirements here, and now feast your eyes on the renderings here.

It is worth noting that applicants’ individual incomes must hit a minimum of $19,150– which would already disqualify people making New York minimum wage of $8/hour ($16,640 annual income) and many artists and freelance writers (for example).

Still, it’s a step, and don’t thank Bill de Blasio just yet. The building was acquired by the nonprofit arts developer Artspace in 2012 for $1, and it was co-developed with the East Harlem community developer Operation Fightback, with $24 million in tax credits from the city. It’s an example of the kind of building which Picture the Homeless and NYCCLI have been calling for; rather than giving away problematic properties to condo developers in third party transfers, per the norm, the city could give first refusal (first dibs) to nonprofit housing organizations.

So thank you, Artspace and Operation Fightback. And hurry up and add your name to the lotto. Your chances are still slim to none, with 93,000 artists in the city, but hey, your options are also pretty slim.

{ 1 comment }

Myra Saffian December 10, 2014 at 7:13 pm

Don’t you think the quality and the experience of a true artists life should be the most important requirement for consideration rather than income or what’s the point ? I for one have always taken my work seriously and made it my first priority. More so then money. And I can honestly say it is worth more.

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