THE CONTEXT: A HOUSING CRISIS + ARTIST-LED PLACEMAKING
If studio space and housing in New York City are too expensive for artists, what does that mean for all working poor and unemployed people? A 2012 Picture the Homeless report found that while the number of people in the shelter system in New York City doubled in the 10 years after 2002, 3,500 vacant buildings could be counted in just 20 out of 59 districts in New York City. How can these buildings be used?
Almost no truly affordable housing has been created in New York City since the 1970s, and many mixed income buildings have low income units that have expired. Where can we live? While we demand that truly affordable housing be provided to all New Yorkers, we also need to inform ourselves of the existing options [LINK TO OPTIONS] for reasonable rent. We hope that all people can find low-cost living situations that make room for unpaid work: organizing, art, childcare, and more.
As The Center for Urban Pedagogy informs us, the government says that housing is “affordable” if a family spends no more than 30% of their income to live there. This threshold is called “affordable rent burden.” But 30% of $1 million provides very different housing options than 30% of $20,000.
Within this housing crisis, interest in artist-led urban redevelopment is increasing. In 2013, Esther Robinson ran an unprecedented number of workshops at Art Home, crowds of artists attended an impromptu meeting about buying a building in Bushwick, PS.109 neared completion, ArtPlace entered a fourth year of funding, and the Journal of Planning Education and Researchstated that,”in a survey of American cities, 45 percent of respondents had built or were planning to build artist housing as a way to revitalize neighborhoods.”