A New Kind of Artist Housing Is Changing Neighborhoods

Shared ownership model of artist housing transforming Indianapolis blocks from vacant to vibrant as artists and developer teamed up to develop affordable housing for working creative professionals.

A look at how highway construction ripped through the heart of Garfield Park

There are similar efforts to introduce artist housing to struggling neighborhoods like that of Houston’s Project Row Houses, but the concept of introducing shared ownership and combining this housing model with a larger effort to cluster complementary uses offers a unique twist on the efforts in Garfield Park. The shared ownership program works as sort of an exchange, with artists co-owning the homes with the partnership — that way only needing to pay half of the cost.

If the artist should move out in the future, the partnership will buy their half of the house and put it back in the program at the same cost level, insuring that affordable home ownership sustains. This way, increased property values caused — at least in part — by art-focused community development boosting demand in the neighborhood won’t price out artists on this block currently transforming from mostly vacant to vibrant. Artists can live in the homes as long as they’d like. By participating in this program called ‘Artists and Public Life Residency’, these artists are being rewarded for their commitment to improve the neighborhood.

Neighborhood Volunteers hard at work towards converting abandoned homes to affordable artist housing. Courtesy of Big Car

This approach effectively creates a sustainable land bank system that keeps houses affordable, long term, for artists even after people in the first round might move and sell their homes. “The idea is to keep the houses outside of market forces and maintain an affordable place for artists to be able to be homeowners in the community,” said Eric Strickland, executive director of Riley Area Development. When selling, neither owner — the artist or the partnership — will profit from an increase in property value. And the artist homeowner isn’t under risk for a decrease in property value.

Garfield Park volunteers chip in to bring life back to empty homes. Courtesy of Big Car

Next: See How Big Car Is Using The Concept of Clustering To Drive Neighborhood