That long lost time when artists lived in Soho is a relic that still lingers in the depths of New York's memory, right next to dirty Times Square and industrial Dumbo, burrowing closer and closer to "things to tell the grandkids" status with each new rent increase. Buried with it, it seems, was the law that required those SoHo lofts to be rented only to certified artists. Until now! Turns out, that law still technically applies, and for reasons unbeknownst to the Times, the city has begun to care. Which could really suck for people like Kelly Ripa.
The law has been ignored for decades, with lofts going to (surprise!) whoever could pay the astronomical rent. Turns out, all those buildings full of non-artist loft-dwellers were being granted temporary certificates. Occasionally, a co-op board would ask residents to sign a nifty little document know in loftland as the "SoHo Letter," which acknowledged their awareness of the law and that they might be asked to prove their artsyness. Something, however, has recently changed, and the artist-in-residence requirement has prompted banks to withhold mortagages, lawyers to advise against moving in, and co-op boards to order residents to "apply to the city for certification as artists."
In a terrifying twist for presumed droves of residents who didn't go to RISD, even the certification process has been suddenly tightened, with the Department of Cultural Affairs, for the "first time anyone could remember," rejecting as many artist applications as they accepted. The criteria look hard to get around: according to the Artist Certification Guidelines, certificates are granted only to artists who require a SoHo space for their work, have educational credentials, and have a body of work that has been displayed and written about in the previous five years. One guy got rejected for being a "hobbyist," and another for being an "interperative artist." Because, you know, interpretive artists aren't artist-artists. Wait, what's an interpretive artist?
While it seems unlikely that enforcing this law after decades of rampant rent inflation will do much in the way of providing affordable artist housing, it will certainly be effective in stirring up quite the tizzy. How's millionaire evictions for historical inverse?