Artists and Community Change
The HOUSING community development sector is comprised of individuals, organizations, and policymakers who are working to build and preserve high-quality affordable housing for low- and moderate-income individuals, families, and communities. Community development corporations and real estate developers leverage incentives like the federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program to build the majority of new affordable housing units in the U.S., while renters and advocacy groups campaign to create and preserve policies like rent control, inclusionary zoning, and land trusts that facilitate and protect affordable housing locally and nationally. This current system for building and preserving affordable housing in the U.S. has its roots in the 1970s, when local efforts to fill gaps left by declining federal funding flourished.
SUGAR HILL CHILDREN’S MUSEUM OF ART & STORYTELLING
BROADWAY HOUSING COMMUNITIES
NEW YORK, NY
DESIGN & ARCHITECTURE, VISUAL ARTS, OTHER
The Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling (SHCMAS) occupies two floors of Broadway Housing Communities’ (BHC) Sugar Hill Project: a nearly 200,000-square-foot building in Harlem designed by renowned architect David Adjaye. In addition to SHCMAS, the site provides 124 units of permanently affordable housing for very low income and formerly homeless individuals and families, and hosts the Sugar Hill Museum Preschool, a community art gallery, and a garden. Too often, housing for low-income people is isolated, stigmatized, and marginalized. The Sugar Hill Project breaks this cycle by providing opportunities for education, socialization, and creative development all under the same roof as a stable, affordable home. The Project further expands the definition of “mixed-use building” by purposefully incorporating the arts and artists into the daily lives of its residents and community members. SHCMAS in particular focuses on the cognitive and creative development of children ages 3-8, especially those living in Upper Manhattan communities beset by deep poverty. BHC’s founder and executive director Ellen Baxter says: “Arts and culture bring needed relief and inspiration to struggling communities. To create a museum of art and storytelling was an aspirational vision informed by the rich cultural heritage of Sugar Hill.”