In the weeks since the fire, there's been no shortage of reporting on the many factors that set the scene for this tragedy, including the lack of coordination between public agencies, the disregard for common safety measures, and the broader housing crisis that disproportionately affects artists.
And yet, there has been little reported on the fact that for the past few years, a family that included three young children was living in the Ghost Ship in unsafe and substandard living conditions. While the subtenants who made the warehouse their home opted into the collective, the children likely had little choice in the matter. While their lives were thankfully spared, their improvised home was not.
Given the circumstances, it’s not enough to characterize artists simply as individuals in need of affordable places to create and live. We need to first understand that artists are a very diverse group, with a range of incomes, ages, and household sizes. And as the victims of the fire have demanded, we also need strong rental protections, eviction controls, and safe and affordable spaces for those who have been marginalized by society to gather and collaborate.
But if we genuinely want to make room for our artistic communities to thrive, we need to consider them within the full circle of life.