Originally Posted on October 29, 2015

Bill calls on city to publicize available joint living-work quarters for artists (JLWQA)

New York, NY – As part of her ongoing efforts to preserve artists’ districts like those in SoHo and NoHo, Council Member Margaret Chin joined her Council colleagues to introduce legislation today that will call on the city to publicize available joint live-work units for artists. The legislation will also require landlords with vacant artists’ loft units to notify the city before offering the apartments to new renters.

“We must preserve the unique character of the artistic districts, like SoHo and NoHo, which form the heart and soul of our City. By requiring landlords to notify the City so that it can post the availability of these precious housing units, we will establish an easy process for working artists looking for an affordable and available space to work and live,” said Council Member Chin. “I thank Council Member Van Bramer and Council Member Lander for joining me in this important effort to save this affordable housing and preserve the artistic character that has made our City a global center of culture.”

Joint Living-Work Quarters for Artists (JLWQA) are units approved for residential use that are reserved specifically for artists certified by the city Dept. of Cultural Affairs (DCLA). Artists certified with the city work on a professional level and have demonstrated the need for a live/work loft in an area zoned for manufacturing.

“Increasing the amount of affordable live-work spaces for our local artists is essential to our City’s growth, economic development and vitality. For over a century artists have played a pivotal role in enriching the fabric of New York City,” said City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer. “Under this bill our City will reaffirm its pledge toward improving the lives of all artists by ensuring they are provided adequate and affordable housing and work spaces within the neighborhoods they have helped put on the map. As Chair of the City Council’s Cultural Affairs Committee, I am proud to join Council Member Margaret Chin in sponsoring this piece of legislation as we continue our work in making New York City more affordable for all.”

“This is a common sense bill that will make sure artists have the greatest possible chance of finding affordable space in the City,” said Council Member Brad Lander, a co-sponsor of the legislation. “By making complete rosters of Joint Living and Working Quarters for Artists publically available, we can make more artists aware of the available spaces throughout New York just for them.”

The legislation calls on DCLA to create a publicly available list of artists’ lofts. When a JLWQA unit becomes vacant, DCLA would be required to send a notice to every individual with an active artist’s certification.

In order to prevent JLWQA units from being converted to market-rate apartments, the bill requires landlords to notify the DCLA at least three days before advertising or offering a lease to a new resident. Any owner who violates these provisions would be subject to a civil penalty of $1,000.

As of 2012, there were approximately 3,540 city-certified artists – with only 26 artists applying for certification in 2011. One of the aims of the legislation is to encourage more artists to certify with DCLA to better ensure that these affordable housing units are filled by artists.

Under the legislation, the DOB and DCLA will be able to easily track the number of JLWQA units in New York City. Currently, the DOB does not have information about the number of available artists’ lofts in the city