Affordable Housing for Local Artists

If you’re a local artist who struggles to find affordable housing, this is your chance. In an effort to provide support for artists and foster positive change in the community, Big Car Collaborative and Riley Area Development are launching an Artist and Public Life Residency program (APLR).

Artists will be chosen through a community-driven selection process to live in one of five affordable homes with down payment assistance. The houses are recently renovated, and located on Cruft Street in the Garfield Park neighborhood.

Anyone who considers themselves an artist is welcome to apply. Disciplines can include architecture, culinary art, visual art, fashion design, craft, design, video, creative writing, performing arts, journalism and more. Artists accepted into the program will be able to be involved with Big Car Collaborative and have access to their other spaces. Big Car currently has a community art space in Fountain Square, as well as a nearby sound art gallery. At the end of last year they also received funds to create a facility called the Cruft Street Commons. This will be the sixth building on Cruft Street that will include studio and exhibition spaces for artists.

Big Car Collaborative CEO Jim Walker said that this APLR program is a strategic initiative to both empower artists and help the local community thrive. He also lives in a nearby neighborhood himself.

“Our goal is to allow artists enjoyable and equitable home ownership while they work with other neighbors and boost the livability, diversity, safety, health and economy of the neighborhood,” Walker says. “We’re also working with neighbors to weave culture and creativity into the fabric of the community.”

All of the houses used in this program initially stood vacant for up to several years, so no existing residents were displaced. The goal of the program is to provide long term housing for creative people, and to foster art as a part of the community.

“We want to help make sure the existing residents and artists who are filling the vacant houses are both able to stay on the block long term. We want this to become a neighborhood known for art and artists — and stay that way,” he continued.

How is the home paid for? Each artist homeowner will co-own a house through a partnership program, so they only pay a portion of the home’s cost. For example, each homeowner will purchase a 49% ownership interest on the home, and each of the houses cost between $49,000 and $72,000. Since this is a program for artists in search of affordable housing, applicants must make less than $43,250 per year.

Lastly, in order to help the community thrive, artist residents must commit to working on their art and being active in the community for six years. They are expected to contribute 16 hours a month to working with the community, through their own public projects or involvement with Big Car.

Applications can be submitted here until March 18.