Long suffering Rust Belt woes and lacking the name recognition of a Pittsburgh or Detroit, York opened its doors to another overlooked group: artists. The results so far are impressive.
When the automobile and railroad industries left town, York spiraled into standard Rust Belt free-fall. In 2008, inspired by similar initiatives by larger neighbors, the traditional 'city of makers' rolled out its Artist Homestead Program. Zoe Gould writes, "Backed by a mere $50,000, this program allowed artists to obtain a forgivable loan of up to $5,000 to help subsidize the purchase of a house in the city proper; if they stayed for at least five years, the loan would be completely forgiven."
Amid staggeringly depressed home prices, that was just enough. "[Director of Community and Economic Development Shilvosky] Buffaloe bought his home for $15,000. In contrast to the hundreds of artist-residency programs that litter the country, [York] asked their artists to buy in and stay, hopefully forever."
In only a few years, the result was renewed vibrancy around York's inner core and a bona fide Arts District. From the article: "[Artists'] divergent thinking is infectious, [Buffaloe] says: 'The artists make that noise' that keeps a city lively and interesting. Artists don't only draw outsiders in – they keep the locals close."
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