Yes, People Live in Lofts

When discussing my book, Left Bank of the Hudson: Jersey City and the Artists of 111 1st Street, at a public event or even among a handful of people, a fundamental question invariably arises: what might be done to retain–or better yet, draw–artists to a city undergoing development and gentrification?

artist_lofts_groundbreaking-_manitowoc,_wi_-_flickr_-_michaelsteeber_(4)
(Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Typically, I run through a laundry list of policy ideas. However, everything boils down to access to affordable housing and space.

Recently, Gothamist published an article detailing activists’ high hopes for reforming New York’s Loft Law in the coming year. Such changes might provide safe housing and rent stabilization for artists and other tenants living in industrial lofts.

New York State enacted its Loft Law in 1982, providing security to many artists residing in SoHo and other New York City neighborhoods.

My book chronicles artists who fought and failed to save their community in a former tobacco warehouse–a loft building. If Jersey City or New Jersey possessed legislation similar to New York’s Loft Law, my book might have concluded on a positive note.

Let’s hope 2019 brings about much-needed changes to New York’s Loft Law. Then, artists, creatives, and other everyday citizens might have more of a place in an increasingly affluent New York.

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