Why Now?

This timely project is a by-product of the current housing crisis in New York city and the country.  A plethora of activism from community groups, residents, and housing advocates are doing the work of fighting for housing justice in all its forms.  The crisis is widely reported as a shortage of affordable housing; meanwhile, public housing stock in New York requires about $32 billion for capital improvement and repairs. To some housing advocates, public housing provides a solution to the shortage of affordable housing, but recognize the need for capital funding in order to transform and expand public housing units.  In New York the narrative is centered around raising capital to repair existing stock and build more affordable housing (which is very different from public housing). The mantra leading up to new neoliberal policies to save NYCHA was persistent and resolute in its message that in order to save this housing stock for the next generation, officials would need to think strategically and form unique partnerships to help achieve those goals.  Policy makers are deciding to move forward without giving much consideration to the fears and concerns of the residents who will, in the short term, benefit from these decisions, but may prove to be detrimental in the long term. Most administration officials believe that the amount of money needed for public housing can only come from forming public-private partnerships. Residents, however, are skeptical about the fate of their communities, and rightfully so.  Residents throughout the country have heard, and often experienced the story of demolition and displacement, urban renewal, mixed-income developments, deconcentration of poverty, and other mobility programs. Case studies have shown that outcomes were not always great. Before we embark on that journey again, it is important to hear residents’ account of what these communities mean to them beyond the physical structures before they become subjects of new case analysis. It is urgent that we create an awareness of resident history and experience in order to counter the current discourse.

Public housing in New York City is currently being repositioned under the Housing and Urban Development Department. (NLIHC) The four policies used to accomplish this are: the Rental Demonstration Program, demolition, conversion from housing to vouchers, and the retention of assets.  With this valuable resource under attack, it is important for residents to be heard before we lose this valuable commodity.  

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