How Will Pricey Cities House Their Artists?

With rents on the rise even in "inexpensive" cities like New Orleans, artists and musicians are getting priced out. Affordable housing designated for artists is one way to help them stay.

1 minute read

February 10, 2017, 9:00 AM PST

By Philip Rojc @PhilipRojc

New Orleans Musicians

Philip Cohen / Flickr

It's a story we hear a lot. Artists gave a place its cultural cachet, but they're getting priced out as gentrification sets in. Teresa Wiltz writes, "New Orleans, like much of the rest of the country, also has an affordable housing crisis — costs here have jumped 50 percent since 2000. As a result, many of the musicians tourists flock to see are forced to do the 'double-ZIP code thing': live outside the city and parachute in for gigs."

Last year, Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced a five-year housing plan to build or preserve 7,500 affordable units. That includes housing designated specifically for "service workers, artists and culture bearers."

Other cities are exploring similar options. "In New York City, Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio announced plans in 2015 to provide 1,500 affordable housing units for artists and musicians by 2025." Dallas and Plano also have plans for arts districts with affordable living spaces. 

"And this week, California is launching a pilot program to identify 10 to 15 communities that could be designated as cultural districts with housing and workspace for artists." Saddled with infrastructure costs and uncertain federal funding, cities are turning to philanthropy, tax credits, and elsewhere for the funds.

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