Affordable housing project sees 53,000 applications for 90 units

Less than 0.2 percent will receive a space in the converted East Harlem school building
October 05, 2014 02:00PM

These days it’s harder for an artist to find an affordable apartment than it is for a billionaire to get into 740 Park. Case in point: El Barrio’s Artspace PS109 in East Harlem, where some 53,000 people applied for one of the 90 affordable apartments.

Of those 53,000 applicants, less than 0.2 percent of them will secure a space — a ratio that puts the acceptance rates at snobby co-ops to shame, according to Crain’s.

“Artists are always the first to go as gentrification takes hold,” said Gustavo Rosado, executive director of El Barrio Operation Fightback, a housing nonprofit that’s developing the building with Minneapolis-based Artspace Projects. “This was an opportunity to maintain our artists.”

The 116-year-old School Building On East 99th Street was shuttered in the mid-1990s and now, after a two-year, $52 million renovation, will open by the end of the year. [Crain’s] – Christopher Cameron