Westbeth was conceived in the ’60s to provide affordable housing for the countless artists in the city. It is a non-profit run by the people who live there. Located in the west village on the block between Bethune, West, Washington, and Bank. It occupies the old Bell Telephone Labs headquarters.
Many things make Westbeth a notable piece of NY history. It was home to many influential artists, such as Merce Cunningham, who lived there for 40 years. A young Richard Meier also designed the building. The building consists of 384 apartments and multiple spaces at ground level.
I have been thinking about the success of Westbeth more and more as the cost of housing is pushing out creatives and creating an overwhelming homeless problem. Giving people an affordable roof over their heads changes everything. Safe, clean, affordable housing changes the game.
Westbeth awarded these live/work studio lofts maxing out at $1200 a month in rent. The rents in 2019 were posted as $1,000 for a studio, $1,300 for a one-bedroom, and $2,000 for a two-bedroom, and you have to make $70k or less to apply. But here is the clincher, the majority of the original artists still live there.
How do we replicate this model throughout NYC and other urban areas around the country? Westbeth is a shining light in the west village. We need more Westbeths.