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Hudson Valley enclave seeks artists for affordable apartments

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A new housing lottery in Peekskill, an hour north of NYC, offers apartments for under $1,500/month

Peekskill’s waterfront park.
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A nearby housing lottery has an enticing new offer—provided you’re willing to leave the confines of New York City. Feast your eyes on the chance to snag a subsidized apartment for artists in Peekskill, New York. (Don’t worry; it’s just a few stops away on the Metro-North.)

If you’re not wedded to the idea of being in the five boroughs forever, fighting for room with rats on increasingly inundated subway platforms, you could very well be the type of person Peekskill is looking for. The lottery is for apartments in a complex called Lofts on Main, in the city’s charming arts district, and it offers one-bedrooms from $1,086/month, or two-bedrooms from $1,296/month. Applications are being accepted through November 10.

There is a catch: You must meet some income requirements and prove to Peekskill’s Artist Certification Committee that you are an “artist.”

Said artisan lifestyle is defined pretty broadly under city law as someone who “practices one of the fine, design, graphic, musical, culinary, literary, computer or performing arts” or produces “a unique creative product; i.e., an architect, craftsperson, teacher of art, music, dance, chef, photographer, etc.” You’ll need to throw together a portfolio with things like examples of your work and letters of recommendations and an explanation on how your brand new loft will be help further your art and the town’s artistic community.

According to lottery winner and freelance writer Daisy Alioto, who moved north this spring, that community is “all ages and disciplines … music teachers, photographers, art therapists, and more,” and is quite neighborly.

But don’t show up to your beautiful new loft acting like a mope who left your New York City life behind; Alioto says Peekskill “isn’t a consolation prize.” It is, both in her view of it and that of a recent New York Times profile, a bustling Hudson Valley hamlet that isn’t too heavy on the twee (and Alioto says you can get a chopped cheese at her deli if you want one).

Peekskill has been running artist-only housing lotteries since 1991, but the Wall Street Journal previously reported that the city wanted to spur more growth by dropping the requirements that buildings in the loft district house only artists. This building has a smattering of market-rate apartments, and Alioto said her building was the first such one that was built like that.

But even the market-rate lofts max out at $1,775/month for a two-bedroom, in a building with a rooftop courtyard, a gallery space, and a gym. Plus, it’s in a city with great nature views and a waterfront and the ability for you to explore the rest of the Hudson Valley from a closer starting point than Grand Central. (And the odds of grabbing one of these places has got to be better than the depressing and overwhelming odds of winning the city’s housing lottery.)