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East Harlem Subsidized Artist Housing Opens for Applications

by Mostafa Heddaya on May 27, 2014

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A former public school on 99th Street in Harlem redeveloped into artist housing under the auspices of El Barrio’s Operation Fight Back has recently begun accepting tenant applications. The 89-unit residential building, called Artspace PS109, will also feature 13,000 square feet of additional space for arts organizations, according to the project website. The $52 million project — $24 million of which came in the form of federal low-income housing credits — will exclusively house working artists, with a target 50% of units given to East Harlem residents. Monthly rents for the apartments, which range from studios to 2-bedrooms, will be between $494 and $1,022; average rent in the neighborhood is $1,667, according to one database of self-reported renter data. Qualifying household income tops out at $50,340.

Matthew S. Washington, chair of the local Community Board 11, told Hyperallergic he is
“confident” the building will reach its 50% target occupancy for East Harlem artists, “but there is no guarantee.” Speaking more generally, Washington added: “To celebrate the phenomenal tradition of the arts in East Harlem and to give artists a space to live and work is important to the longevity of this community.”

Artspace 109 will be jointly managed by El Barrio and Artspace, a Minnesota-based nonprofit that bought the building for $1 in 2012. It joins several other arts-focused, large-scale affordable housing projects in New York, including The Schemerhorn, a building for performing artists funded by The Actors Fund, WestbethManhattan Plaza, and a new building in West Chelsea.

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