New housing in Philadelphia gives local artists hope

- It’s especially tough when property values rise and you can’t even afford your home and workspace anymore – the community you helped build.

But FOX 29’s Bill Anderson toured a new building giving artists hope for sharing in their neighborhood’s prosperity, For goodness Sake.
One of them is Rebecca Rose.
“Most people in the community cannot afford to be paying. I looked at a house for rent and it was two thousand dollars per month. I’m like…WHAT??” she explained.
Rebecca is part of a group of artists and cultural leaders who are being forced out and then miss out on the benefits she and others like her helped create.
It’s the common double-edged sword of development, particularly around Philadelphia’s universities.
Development is good, but unfortunately it often leads to longtime residents being priced out.
“There’s a lot of developers in this community right now and usually when housing is considered, it goes up really fast,” Rebecca learned. “It’s usually high income and high rates.”
Rebecca Rose is what many would describe as a struggling artist. You may have seen one of her pieces at the intersection of 40th and Lancaster, a neighborhood she has lived in for years -- but now she’s one of the first tenants of an affordable housing complex designed so those who help build the culture and appeal of a neighborhood can stay there as property values increase.
“Enter my humble abode,” Rebecca welcomed Bill as a resident of the 4050 Apartments.
The recently opened property is a low income building. It was developed and paid for by the People’s Emergency Center and several other organizations with a simple concept: The community of West Powelton believed that artists, musicians and entertainers are important parts of the community, so if they were below a certain income they receive preference.
As Bill toured Rebecca’s new apartment, she was clearly excited and inspired by the design and the space.
“This is my workspace,” she showed.
“Wow! Tthis is a lot of space up here, I know right….This is the artists space, wow, that’s the master? Yes, that’s the master….we were struggling starving artists, very little space to work with, but you don’t wanna give up your dream, don’t wanna give up your dream, it’s your life”
So far, the concept of low income artists paying 30 percent of their income to live at 4050 Apartments is working as planned.
“Just on the floor we’re on at 4050,” Rebecca described her closest neighbors, “there’s photographers, there’s choreographers, there’s poets, there’s dancers, there’s glass folks.”
And there’s an appreciation that the People’s Emergency Center and partners want to help other communities asking for consideration as development makes their longtime neighborhoods unaffordable.
According to Rebecca, “There’s artists coops where artists try to make an opportunity for themselves, but to have an institution help you is amazing.”
4050 is an opportunity to explore ways for PEC to continue their work within communities and in some small way show that in cases of massive development the community can and should still have a voice.
The first 20 apartments are full but hopefully the concept of working to provide opportunities for communities to experience growth and success together continues to expand.
People’s Emergency Center link:
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