Affordable Housing for Artists

Volume CVI, No. 11November, 2006

Single artists looking for affordable housing in Brooklyn might be able to get in on a project to be completed in December 2007. Construction is being launched on Schermerhorn House, a 217-unit housing development in downtown Brooklyn.

Located on Schermerhorn Street between Smith and Hoyt, the house will be an eight-story, 85,000 square foot building complex featuring numerous “eco-elements,” including two rooftop gardens, a high-efficiency boiler system, the use of nontoxic sustainable materials, and increased natural lighting.

The Actors’ Fund is one of the partners in the project.

The building will include a ground-floor, 2,000 square foot, black-box theatre and multi-purpose space. This space will be managed by the Actors’ Fund and will be open to the public for community art shows, rehearsals and performances, films, exhibitions and other cultural activities.

Half of the more than 200 units will be designated for low-income working tenants, including local artists, actors and entertainment professionals, and half will be reserved for homeless individuals and those with special needs.

“The Actors’ Fund is excited to be part of this innovative partnership,” said Actors’ Fund Executive Director Joe Benincasa. “This project responds to the need for additional supportive housing for entertainment professionals and recognizes the invaluable role the arts play in the long-term and successful economic revitalization of urban neighborhoods.”

“As the new downtown Brooklyn takes shape as a world-class 24/7 live-work community, Schermerhorn House will ensure that the area reflects the diversity that defines Brooklyn,” said Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. “The development’s 200-plus moderate-income units will enable artists to continue to make Brooklyn New York City’s creative capital, while empowering the formerly homeless to pursue their own American dream. I just wish we had a dozen more like it!”

The Schermerhorn House staff will collaborate with such organizations as the Visiting Nurse Service of New York, God’s Love We Deliver, STRIVE (Support and Training Result in Valuable Employees), local arts organizations, and local social service and health service providers in developing programs for its residents, including performances by local community arts groups, workshops on such topics as preventive health care, financial management and career development, support groups for chemical dependency, HIV/AIDS and women’s health issues, social gatherings such as literary readings, dance performances and special events.

The Actors’ Fund is not yet accepting applications for Schermerhorn House, but the fund is maintaining a list of people who would like to be notified when an application is available. Artists who want to be added to the list should call (212) 221-7300, ext. 264. The income levels are not set yet but applicants will most likely need incomes between $16,000 and $29,000 to qualify as tenants. The rents will be about $610 per month.