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

El Barrio's Artspace PS109 in East Harlem
El Barrio's Artspace PS109 in East Harlem

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.

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“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